Saturday, August 30, 2014

On Moving & Being with Yourself

I took a walk today, and I saw a dead dog. On the sidewalk. Lying stiffly in a pool of blood.

And I had no one to tell it to!

I could probably just stop writing right there, and this would be enough to justify my blog post, but instead I will keep going. Because I’m living alone for the first time in…well…forever, and I just need to tell someone something. Anything. But since that would be boring, I’ve opted for telling you all about moving and being alone, which I have optimistically re-named, “Being with Yourself.”

Hmmm….that could sound dirty. But you know what I mean. Being by yourself implicitly suggests the aloneness of the endeavor. Being with yourself suggests that you are your own best friend, boon companion, onlooker, mutual friend, etc.

I’m still working on that part…

I have never lived on my own; after I left home, I had roommates throughout college and afterwards, in that strange period of time when you are Becoming an Adult, also known as the show “Girls,” I also always lived with others. Even if I didn’t talk to them very often, there was always a Presence there to speak to. Though there were times when even roommates did not seem like enough. Living on my own again reminds me of the times when I lived with roommates who had their own lives, leaving me frequently at home to fend for myself, which often ended in listening compulsively to Dido and Coldplay and bemoaning my post-college aloneness.

For the last six years, however, I have had a constant companion in the form of my wife and best friend, K. For the last six years, in fact, we have barely been apart (not in a creepy way…but with a touch of co-dependence, I will admit). Three weeks apart when I traveled to visit relatives abroad? That last week was always so painful and drawn out! And now here we are, living apart, 1200 miles apart, in fact, and though it could be worse (we are, at least, in the same time zone and on the same continent and country), it feels strange to be missing that ever-present witness to my everyday, humdrum existence.

It doesn’t help that I am also currently adjusting to living in a new place, in a new state, with a new job. I moved last year and that seemed like quite the move, but moving with someone, it turns out, is quite preferable to moving alone. I mean, with only myself. (Think positive! or is it “Think positively!”?) Even when you know no one, you still have that person who is required, by law and love, to accompany you as you get lost in new neighborhoods, go to bad restaurants, and get stared at by the locals who, through some kind of 6th sense, innately know you don’t belong.

The last time I moved somewhere totally new and was totally on my own was when I moved to New York City for my MA. I, somewhat naively and mistakenly, believed that since I was going to school and living in Brooklyn, I would automatically make fast friends with everyone else in my program. NYC is, however, a heartless mistress; people move there with friends or they go to school there, they stay, set up networks, and then get so entangled in them that they find little time for newcomers. It’s an insular world, and, while I enjoyed certain aspects of life in the City, it never felt like home. When I packed up and moved to Long Island, it was with a certain relief: here were trees! clean air! and, luckily for me, other desperate, lonely phd students who were eager to make friends—like I was.

Many people have written about how it’s harder to make good friends the older that you get. I’m not sure that is true; sometimes I think it depends on where you are and what you do. Between academia, which attracts certain kinds of lonely intellectuals, the outcasts growing up who are constantly searching for friends who understand the lifestyle, and roller derby, which is centered around bonding and friendship in addition to sportsmanship, it was fairly easy to adjust to life in Tennessee.

Here in Texas, however, I feel, at the moment, adrift in space. I check Facebook addictively to see who else is out there, online, feeding off the meager energy of virtual life. If I put something online, then it exists; if I don’t, then, it would seem, it doesn’t. I know that with time, I will meet more people, make friends, get settled. I don’t doubt that. But how can I come to terms with being with myself, all the time, without being just lonely?

And who am I supposed to turn to when I see a dead dog on the sidewalk?

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