The first day, back at square one

The bare walls are depressing.

I’m in my new home, a basement apartment in an area of town I’ve taken to calling Siberia. The plan was to find a place downtown but older buildings meant no A/C, crowded spaces meant $100/mo to park my car, and generally speaking everything I saw was overpriced. I mean: I just wanted to be able to stumble home, those nights when you need a drink or two. My friend Lynn reminded me last night at dinner that, considering the amount I’ll save by living here, I’ll be able to pay a cab to drive me to Siberia every now and then.

I’m single again and it all became real today. The only objective was to get my bed here, my toiletries for the bathroom, and some dishes and utensils: the bare necessities I needed to get out of my friends’ spare bedrooms. And I got the job done. Who cares that I have boxes and boxes of cereal here but no milk? That I brought my thermos and instant coffee but forgot to bring the kettle? The bed is here and, until I go back to “the Odessa house” tomorrow, my workstation is right here on this bed.

The place will fill in soon enough, I know. The books and CDs will find a home. My writing desk. My night stand, the one we put in the guest bedroom while I sat my phone, night lamp and a few books on an old cushioned stool that I used in Derek’s bedroom in the house where he lived before we moved in. And, of course, the wall hangings.

The months after we broke up weren’t real, I understand now. I stayed in the house and continued living as I had before. He said we’d lived as roommates, the last year especially, and it was true. The only significant change after we broke up was that I got drunk more often and felt liberated enough to tell him how I felt about his new “boyfriend,” their shared closetedness and preoccupation with sex, and that it was shameful the way he lined his ducks in a row in preparation to devastate me.

Fuckin’ Craigslist.  I’ll always hate you.  And Jennifer Nettles, too.

The irony, I suppose, is that I’ve always enjoyed my alone time, that here — on my first night, back at square one — I had the TV on mute, while I scrolled through Facebook, chatted with a friend, carted ON MY OWN the heaviest damn king sized mattress ever invented across the length of this unit and then made the bed, pulled my laptop out and got some work done. It felt good, this very first night, to spend my own time doing my own thing. Unafraid to indulge myself in a blog post, the first since September 2016, one month before he dropped the bomb on me.

I’d planned to ask him for a TV tonight, for him to give me the one he won at an office raffle a couple years ago, the one in “the office” of the Odessa house, that room we never spent any time in, the TV that was mounted to the wall but not once plugged in or turned on. The TV I brought into the house we shared is too big to fit into the built-in entertainment unit here, so when I texted to tell him I was on my way — and also added that the satellite installer would be here tomorrow and that I had to pick up the receivers at the Odessa house where he lives — he immediately called instead of waiting the 15 minutes it would’ve taken me to drive there. He said he had company and what all would I be taking? More importantly, what would he watch on TV tonight if I take the receivers?

I argued because isn’t it smarter to have a conversation in person than on the phone? Because I’m the one who’s life has been upended, who’s starting all over with no full-time job, no relationship, BUT AT LEAST a roof over my head (as of today), but God help us if you’re inconvenienced without two hours of television between the moment when your friend leaves and you go to bed tonight.

I’m the one who’s been sleeping in my friends’ spare bedrooms the past three weeks, thankful they could keep me and yet trying with every step to not wear out my welcome, but two hours without TV for you is too much to ask.

I’m the one who always felt guilty for enjoying my alone time.

Until tonight.