Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Living Alone

It is the best.

About a month ago, on the one-year anniversary of my college graduation, I talked to my college best friend/former roomate.  We had the conversation that started with, "Remember where we were a year ago today...?"

I remember it vividly.  I was an RA living in Burr.  She was a resident living in Fedde.  She had moved all of her things out of her room save an air mattress and a change of clothes.  I hadn't yet started packing up my room.  After all, I'm the RA, and I get to move out whenever I darn well please.  Neither of us even wanted to participate in our graduation ceremony, but we merely did it to appease our parents who had waited all 21 years of our lives for this day.  We went out for McDonald's breakfast (classy, right?).  We rode to the Devaney Center together.  We took a few wrong turns on the way there.  We couldn't sit together because we had attended different colleges.  We talked on the phone through parts of the ceremony.  I have no idea who the honored speaker was, but I do remember using my time to catch up with several people with whom I had interacted throughout college.  Also, I talked on the phone with my brother who was seated somewhere up in the arena.  A boring four hours of my life that I will never get back.

 Leaving the Devaney Center, right after we graduated!

Anyway, I remember after the ceremony when we both returned to our dorms, Elie agreed to stick around a while longer before moving back to Omaha to live with her parents.  What was a girl to do in this jobless economy?  I remember thinking, when Elie left me for the night, "What am I going to do without dozens of people at my immediate disposal?"  I remember thinking that I would be sad, lonely, and bored.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Living alone is amazing.  So amazing that I have vowed never to get married or have children of my own, simply because I am not willing to share my living space with anyone.  Ever.

Yesterday, for example, I slept in until 10:00.  I didn't make my bed (and I always make my bed).  I didn't even bother to change out of my pajamas.  I made chocolate chip pancakes for brunch.  And I didn't do the dishes (and I always do the dishes).  I sat outside on my balcony and read for a few hours.  And then I came inside and took a nap for a few hours (and I never take naps).  I played music on my iHome throughout the day.  I made chocolate chip cookies and drank milk straight from the carton.  It was a great day.

When I had roommates, though, this lifestyle would not have been possible.  When I had roommates, it was my job to be the responsible and tidy one (because God knows none of the other ones were willing and able to do the job).  I swear, I don't think one of my roommates (who shall remain nameless) even knew where to take the trash or recycling.  Thankfully, I shared a bathroom with Elie (the cleanest of the three).  UNL provided for us a cleaning lady that came once every other week, and even she refused to clean up the mess that was the bathroom of the other two roommates.  I tried my very best to maintain order in the apartment and to stay out of the way of everyone else's day.  "Oh, you're having friends over?  Don't worry, I'll clean up the apartment.  And don't worry about me getting in your way, I'll go out to run errands or something."

These were my roommates, Mindi, Elie, and Krissy.

 This is the kind of mess we used to create.  In the above picture, we thought it would be a good idea to build a fort.

And when I was an RA, there was absolutely no time to myself.  My "free time" was filled with staff meetings and planning social events and making rounds.  When I wasn't "on duty," young residents were constantly in and out of my room.  "Can you help me with my class schedule?"  "I don't understand my statistics homework.  Can you help me?"  "My boyfriend just broke up with me..."  "I made a big mistake, and I need to talk to someone..."

 I had to plan ridiculous programs like this one, Workout Wednesday.

I would often return to find pictures like these drawn on my white board.

I was rarely left alone.

I wouldn't take that lifestyle back if you paid me to. 

Being by myself is the best.  I can come and go as I please.  I can keep my apartment clean and tidy, and nobody is here to mess it up.  Or, on the day(s) when I decide to not immediately put my dishes in the dishwasher, there is nobody here to complain about it.  And when I want to sit down and enjoy a good book, there is nobody around who feels like they may knock on my door as they please... nobody around who feels entitled to my time. 

Pearl S. Buck once said, “The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being."  With all due respect, Ms. Buck, I couldn't disagree with you more.

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