Thursday, December 4, 2014

Like a stack of stones

I moved into my apartment in August. It's the first time I've ever lived alone.

There are a lot of things I relish about living alone, but one reigns queen: the knowledge that there is always a hallowed place tucked away from the world (minus the sounds of the 4 a.m. bar across the street, and all the cars) where I will not have to wear pants.

I'm not big on pants. I wear skirts almost every day. I like jeans, but only the thin skinny stretchy kind that feel like leggings. I bought a pair of slacks a few weeks ago, and basically the only thing they're good for is stretching my usual work wardrobe rotation out by an extra uncomfortable day. Suffice it to say that if I'm not in a situation where pants are mandatory, I probably won't wear them.

And definitely not at home.

Nights when I don't have to be anywhere (or anywhere til later in the evening) are my absolute favorite. I strut back from the brown line like the sidewalk is being built by the force of my steps. I blast music and pretend I'm Alison Mosshart. I jangle my keys so you know I'm coming. I check my mailbox. Like. A. Boss.

Sometimes I step inside my doorway, strip to my underwear, turn my music up louder, and dance. I spin gypsy circles in the hall on top of my clothes. I stomp and pounce and throw my arms around like a mime on mushrooms. (The neighbors love me.)

If you've never done it, do. It's so good. Like, good enough to be in a rom-com montage. Only in this movie, the romance is with yourself. Just you, dancing, Sundance-approved.

I've learned in my quarter-century of life that it's really important to love yourself, for two reasons: the obvious first one is that you never know who else is gonna be in love with you at a given time, and it could even be no one. The second one, and the one that's taken me much longer to figure out, is that loving yourself makes you a whole lot lovelier to the people you love. You can't take care of people til you care for yourself.

The fundamental human reality is to be alone. Sometimes you get to a point where you realize you could entirely drop off the face of the earth and very few people -- if any -- would notice. Knowing, and gradually accepting, this is what I think is the key to happiness. For every mysteriously ancient pet goldfish there's a half dozen that died within the first three days. For every genuine, supportive friend there's at least a half dozen who couldn't come to something or other because they wanted to watch Netflix together without you. For every love of your life there's probably a minimum of a half dozen assholes. Accept it. Love them anyway.

This all adds up to a lot of people talking. A lot of noise. Squinting through the clatter, I've noticed a few things that seem like simple truths:

1) Life means something.
2) Not everyone's will look the same.
3) Some of the people you love do not love you back.
4) Some of the people you love do love you back but are broken, like you.
5) As long as you love, even if you are alone, you are never a waste.

How does it feel to be on your own, like a stack of stones?

Perhaps our lives are signals. Signs.

Perhaps the purpose of being stuck on the ground is to be better able to see the whole sky.

So take your stupid pants off and look up.