I can’t remember how long it had been since I wanted to live alone. 10 years? 15, maybe? As far back as I can recall, all I wanted to do was get away from people.
I wanted a lot of things, as a matter of fact.
I was selfish and confused. I wanted a lot of friends, but I wanted them to never be around. I wanted to wake up alone and I wanted to fall asleep alone. My mother tells me that as a child, I would insist on sleeping in my own room. She would tuck me in and turn out the lights, only to find me standing at her bedroom door in the middle of the night, crying because I got scared. I would wake up the next day in her bed and beg to be left alone in my room the following night. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Flash forward to half a decade later:
Being immigrants who were trying to begin anew, my parents had little time and resources to cater to our growing pains. This is not to say that they didn’t do a fantastic job at it. Growing up, however, meant learning a lot of things before my parents would. At times it almost felt like I was raising them just as much as they were raising me. I also had the privilege of raising my kid brother until he was well into his adolescence. We were eight years apart, and I was barely a teenager myself when I babysat him for the first time. That went on for almost 10 years. It felt like too much back then, but if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before I turned 18, I had successfully developed a self-reliant mentality. I could cook, clean, do my laundry and manage my checking and savings accounts. I kept a regular grooming and hygiene routine almost religiously. I could almost make my bed. My grasp on necktie knots was just as good as my understanding of a credit score and my networking skills were as adequate as they could be, growing up where I did. My first job started when I was 15 years old. I mowed lawns and painted fences until I was 16 and I could change a flat tire under 15 minutes once I got my own car. I tried to be a savvy consumer, but an impulse buy here and there was always cathartic. I worked three jobs, I traveled overseas and I managed a stock portfolio, along with a tiny record label. I had done everything anyone could ever want to do, and I did all that before I turned 21.
With the exception of one thing: living alone.
Fast forward to January of 2010. I moved out of the college dorm and into my own apartment. It was 8 pm and I sat down to eat in the tranquility of my own living room. The plastic furniture didn’t bother me. The unpredictability of electricity didn’t faze me a bit either. I must have had the most impish smile on my face as I raised the first bite to my mouth. The dull crunch of my teeth piercing the roti and kabob was almost deafening. It was loud enough to wipe that smile right off of my face and make me realize that I had never eaten alone before. Perhaps an isolated incident here and there, but never this quietly. Never this utterly lonely. That was the first time I began to build respect for myself. I continued to eat and I couldn’t hear myself think over the sound of my chewing. The loud noise of loneliness.
With each passing moment, the space around me began to grow vast. I felt myself grow right along with it. I was happy. I was never in bad company when I was alone. I must say, I have never found but one companion who was as companionable as the solitude itself. There came a time when people came knocking at my door, and if I wasn’t in the company of that one companion, I would refuse to answer it in a feeble attempt to convert them to the religion of solitude.
Sometimes, I would sit face to face with myself, pondering over my despair and rejoicing over my achievements. The people closest to me were even closer now that they weren’t actually physically close. The further I kept them, the more I loved them. I guarded my isolation in the cunningest of manners. I belonged to myself. Not like a hermit. That wouldn’t be enough. It was worse. It was almost better.
I strengthened my fortress of solitude to a point that it became impenetrable. I succeeded in being considered totally unworthy of company. People left me alone, just as I wanted. I was victorious. The only thing left to do was develop a capacity for constructive use of solitude. I bought a guitar, and I caught up on reading lists from three summers ago. I started this blog, though I preferred adhering to the more satisfying, micro-blogging platform, otherwise known as twitter. (It provides instant gratification, don’t judge me.) I cooked and maintained my health better than ever before. Being alone was every bit as rewarding as I had expected it to be,
I’ve noticed that my posts have started to become too lengthy. I intend to be inadvertently verbose, specially when I start talking about myself. Grandeur. It’s pathological. Anyway, I’ve recognized the readers ever so shortening attention span and I decided to address it by splitting my posts into parts. This is only an experiment, and your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!