A while back when I was moving into my own apartment with no room mate I read an article about how people can get weird when they don’t have the accountability of daily social interaction. I knew this was true on some level because I have lived alone before (while going through treatments for illness) and I was a bit odd then, but I chalked that up to the fact that I didn’t feel well so it was all excused. In retrospect, now that I’ve resided alone for almost 6 months I see that I’m really just extra strange when left to my own devices. I suppose the word “strange” has negative connotations so I should explain further… I like the kooky things I do in my alone time but I’m also completely ashamed of them at the same time, if that is possible.
For example, I dance… a lot. This may sound to some of you like a cute ’90s movie where the spunky female protagonist is just expressing herself in a fun film-able way. Let me give you the picture of what is actually happening in my lofty lair: I haven’t showered yet because I can do that just before I go out… nobody can smell me here; I’m wearing a tattered pair of cotton shorts that fit me when I was 15 (and not a day past then) with a non matching tank top and my hair looks how I imagine it would look if I got into a fight with a furious monkey (I don’t know why he’s so mad). The songs that I choose to practice my craft to vary. Often times it’s show tunes and I sing to my dog as though she is a big broadway producer as I jump from sofa to love seat with absolutely no grace, landing on the latter of the two getting my foot caught in-between cushions. As I recover I’m inevitably out of breath but that will never stop me from singing, so now I’m doing a rendition from Wicked as though someone with severe Parkinson’s was cast as the lead, flailing and gasping while just barely missing that high note. The moves in my repertoire consist of: the running man (which, to be fair, I am AWESOME at), a style I can only describe as trashy stripper chic, grinding the air like a rapper is watching and he will cast me in his next video and, randomly, jazz hands. My dog is sweet, but in these moments her judgement is harsh and unforgiving. She always looks at me like she can not believe I am the one responsible for her well being and she is now convinced that, left in my care, she will be starving and flea ridden within a week. She already doesn’t fully trust my judgement after I thought it was a good idea to take her for a walk during Hurricaine Irene…
Dancing can really work up an appetite; TIME TO EAT! Another odd thing about living alone is food shopping for one. Most standard quantities of things are too much for me to finish before it goes bad. Alright, that was a lie… I am a crappy grocery shopper; I buy too much because I always get great ideas for things I’m going to make, buy all the ingredients then get lazy and eat canned soup, a lean cuisine or, one time when pressing microwave buttons got to be too much, string cheese and packaged seaweed. So now I have lots of really nice ingredients for recipes I will only end up making about 50% of the time. Next month you can find them still in my fridge, colonizing and planning a revolution in against the non-rotten food in the freezer.
Snack food is a whole separate problem. When you live with a person you might sit down with a portioned out snack because who is going to eat an entire BJ’s sized jar of pickles and not feel ashamed? That problem doesn’t exist when there is someone there to say, “umm, Samantha… if you eat all those your breath may become permanently putrid and I’m pretty sure the juice it’s in is not for drinking” (which is what any good room mate would say). Here is the issue; grabbing the whole jar from the fridge is a lot easier than:
1. Getting the jar out of the fridge (might I remind you that you could be done right now…)
2. Walking over to the cabinets
3. Opening the cabinet of choice
4. Reaching for a bowl or a plate (See?!?! Now we’ve added difficult decisions)
5. Closing the cabinet
6. Transferring pickles from the jar to the chosen vessel (unnecessary cardio if you ask me)
7. Putting the pickles back in the fridge (which I wouldn’t have to do if I was just smart enough to finish them in one go).
I think anyone would agree that this is way too many steps just to snack on a pickle. Now I’m not even sure I still want one… ok I do, but I’m eating it from the jar dammit.
Worst of all are the tiny messes that I leave thinking, “I’ll do those dishes later” or “I just put so much work into piling all the dirty clothes up, I need a break before I walk them over to the washer”. When I had a room mate I would either clean it up for fear of pissing them off with my gross or I had the backup plan of waiting for them to get passive aggressive about the problem and I could clean it up, fueled by sheer guilt. In general these days my apartment overall is pretty neat, but it’s those funny tiny messes that if someone walked into my place unannounced they would think, “Huh… why is there a pile of empty target bags and torn off paper labels all over the floor?” So now when I learn I am having company over I have to race around last minute shoving piles in closets and hiding things in cabinets. It’s not the best long term plan for cleanliness.
As much as these behaviors worry me, I know that once I’m placed back into a situation where I am cohabiting I will be a good room mate and some social norms will come rushing back to me. In the meantime I may have just prolonged the time I have before that happens because I bet I sure sound like a great girl to live with after all this, right?