While living situations in our twenties are often characterized by constant human interaction — the lottery roommate you got stuck with your freshman year of undergrad, living with your three best bros in a sweet off-campus apartment, moving in with a first love — there comes a time when circumstance or the yearn for independence will send us diving head-first into a life living alone, which, at times, feels like a behind-the-scenes look into the life of Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway.
1. There is no one else to take the heat for your post-apocalyptic living conditions.
“Pop-ins” from friends, parents and significant others become the stuff of nightmares. Coagulated oatmeal on the nightstand? A mysterious clump of hair in the tub? Yea, that was me. Boyfriend, I didn’t know how to tell you — I’m a slob. I didn’t want you to find out this way; I’m so sorry. Make reservations next time.
2. Nobody is around to tell you things like your outfit doesn’t match or that you have makeup caked into your eyebrows.
The checks and balances system contends as arguably the greatest advantage of living with another human being. Looking out for your roommate’s social well being is one of the Ten Roommate Commandments: Thou shalt not let thy roommate leave thy house if her makeup makes her look like Joan Rivers.
The governing powers of a roommate to instill confidence and regulate appearance shall not be underestimated; understand and accept that living solo means you will show up to work with smeared mascara or an open fly once in a while.
3. Nothing becomes quite so important as making it into your apartment with all the grocery bags in one trip.
This becomes one of your primary forms of exercise. Double trips to the car are for people with motivation, or companions. You will learn to carry five to six grocery bags on each arm and think nothing of it. You will develop sporty, impressive forearm and biceps muscles as a result.
4. Dead silence starts doing weird things to you.
Those who have never lived alone may be under the incorrect assumption that talking to oneself is a habit reserved solely for people like Clint Eastwood or Tyler Durden. This is a myth.
5. Any semblance of food etiquette or sophistication goes to hell.
Intentions always start out well; at first, you will have fanciful notions of solo cooking sessions with NPR humming in the background and a good glass of wine tableside. Dinner will be eaten, perhaps, at the table with a copy of The Atlantic to keep you company.
In all likelihood, this will subside. Eating becomes less a symbol of joy and self-sufficiency and more a mechanism by which you stay alive. On a positive note, your culinary creativity will increase tenfold as you experiment like a mad scientist with concoctions like animal crackers and ketchup or pasta mixed with hot sauce. Unfortunately, cooking “normal” meals for others becomes increasingly difficult.
6. You’ll probably start exhibiting more primate-like characteristics.
For starters, the most obvious monkey-esque trait: wearing less clothes. Underwear is the perfect attire in which to chop carrots, clean your tub, write a paper, do yoga. In the same vein, picking things up with toes instead of hands becomes a masterful, innovative tool of amusement and efficiency.
7. Your appearance will probably suffer in general.
When you live alone, the only person who knows that your true, natural state is an uncanny semblance of a squirrely, high school Tina Fey is you. That’s a beautiful thing.
8. Chances are you live in a glorified dorm room.
On paper, a one-room urban loft with exposed brick walls and a tiny sleeping nook sounds totally boho. “My kitchen is in my living room? How totally progressive and utilitarian!” In reality, this is not as cool as it sounds. That creepy painting your mom gave you as a gift and checks for every time she comes over? YOU CAN’T ESCAPE IT.
9. The prospect of again living with another human being becomes a source of fear.
At some point in your bachelordom, the opportunity will arise to move in with a love or a friend and shed your solitude. While appealing, the prospect of doing so will terrify you on multiple tiers, the most daunting of which will be wondering how a new person will respond to the cavemen-esque antics you’ve grown to cherish and appreciate. Can I still drink jugged wine in bed at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday? What’s the pants policy? Do they have rehabilitation classes for people like us?
CONTACT HANNAH MCCARTNEY: [email protected]