Living alone is waking up in the morning in the middle of the bed because there is no one to bump into during the restless night. It’s breakfast for one. One plate, one cup, one fork, one knife in the sink. It’s nobody asking about your plans for the day or complaining about how long you’re in the bathroom. It’s leaving for work unkissed, knowing there will be no hug to welcome you home when the day is over.
Living alone is facing the work day knowing that there is no one who’ll care to hear about your successes or failures, about office gossip, or the hope of a raise or the fear of unemployment. It’s going to lunch and seeing couples coming together to share a sandwich while holding hands, hugging and pecking lips before parting to return to their separate careers secure in the knowledge they will share their stories over the next meal. It’s earning money but having no one who will light up at the unexpected gift you never buy.
Living alone is telling the restaurant hostess you need a table for one and seeing her try to hide the flicker of contempt or pity in her eyes before she seats you. It’s taking a book to the table so you don’t see the other diners who are maybe looking at you and thanking God for the person across the table from them. It’s looking at the book so you don’t see or hear the couples and friends and families making moments all around you. It’s eating quickly, thinking you should have just gone home and eaten the frozen dinner like you’d originally planned. It’s over tipping because the waitress’s smile seemed genuine and it’s the only one given to you all day.
Living alone is sitting in your living room as night fills the rooms of your house while the silence grows heavier and heavier until the dark and the quiet press you into the sofa with the weight of the ocean over the ruins of the Titanic. It’s lethargy and moaning desperate loneliness. It’s going to the bathroom with your cell phone in your hand in hopes that somebody somewhere will use one of the many apps you’ve downloaded to send you a text, an e-mail, a video, or a meme they thought was funny. It’s posting veiled cries for help on social media and seeing people respond with laughing emojis because no one knows you are actually in pain.
Living alone is watching action movies or horror movies or anything that is not about romance or happy people because seeing Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan falling in love isn’t escapism when every frame of film reminds you of what you do not have. It’s buying the small bags of microwave popcorn and explaining to a pair of napping dogs why the movie is good or bad. It’s avoiding movies you’ve seen with people who are no longer in your life because certain scenes will make you cry no matter how much you try to prepare for them. It’s knowing that when the film ends it will be time to face the empty bed again.
Living alone is laying in the dark, unable to sleep, thinking of all the things in your past that have led you to this moment, in this room, between these sheets with no one to talk to, no one to hold, no human scent to comfort you, no body to keep you warm, no soft snoring to let you know another person feels safe in your company. It’s wondering if the people you still love are thinking of you now or ever. It’s knowing that if you die in the night no one will care until the neighbors smell the decay of the empty husk you walked around in for so long before it finally stopped moving.
Living alone is for monsters in caves, trolls under bridges, husbands who cheat, and fathers who are absent. Living alone is for villains. Bad guys. The unloved and unwanted.
I live alone.