Between 2005 and 2007 I lived alone in a lovely one-bedroom apartment in suburban Halifax. Hardwood floors with carpeting in the bedroom, a great view of the city, a little balcony, a nice landlord, restaurants and shops within walking distance, a 5-minute drive from the radio station where I worked full-time. It was the first, and thus far only, time I’ve lived autonomously. I miss that independence more than anything now.
Besides the satisfaction of regularly going to work, I could live without other people getting in the way. I could set plans and schedule my time without having to consult other people. I could come and go from my apartment as I pleased; no need to notify other people I’d be leaving or when I’d return. I could buy my own groceries and cook my own meals without other people looking over my shoulder. I could treat myself to the occasional take-out meal without other people judging my eating habits. I could have guests over without other people’s permission. I could stay out late (which I rarely did anyway) without other people needlessly worrying about me. I could come home and be alone; no need to make banal conversation with other people.
I now live with my dad and uncle, who I’m sure you guessed constitute the “other people.” It is not a happy living arrangement, for my anyway. I don’t think it’s abnormal for a 28-year-old to want some distance from his family at this point in his life. Alas, my shitty body has once again jammed a massive wrench into the mechanics of my life plans.
Yesterday morning, my dad had a doctor’s appointment and my uncle went for one of his weekday walks to the local library. This was no small set of events. It was like a solar eclipse – everything lined up just right to grant me a few precious moments of alone time. I cranked up the radio in the living room and set to work making a smoothie consisting of a banana, blueberries, kale, Swiss chard, and parsley. Not the tastiest concoction, but it’s supposed to be good for me. I bounced around the kitchen to Said The Whale’s “I Love You” as I chopped the ingredients. Then I sat on the couch, listened to the radio, and sipped my green smoothie from a glass stein. I felt… what’s the word? Oh yeah, good. I felt good in my solitude. No one else watching what I do. No one else soliciting hackneyed chit chat. No one else around. Just the way I like it.
My uncle returned from his walk a little while later. The eclipse lasted a grand total of 1 hour and 26 minutes. I turned off the blaring rock music and retreated to my room. It’s not that I don’t love my uncle or my dad; I love them both, and I’m grateful for all the good, non-annoying things they do for me. I just don’t like living with them. I’ve never lived with roommates, but I’m sure I wouldn’t like that either.
This morning, with the house full as usual, I tried to enjoy a quiet breakfast. When I was finished with my oatmeal, croissant, and store bought strawberry-banana smoothie, I started to head upstairs. My dad, sitting on the couch, looked up from the newspaper.
“Are you going for a shower now?” he asked.
“Not yet, I’ll go a little later.”
“When you shower, you know there’s really no need to keep the water running while you lather the soap. You can turn off the water and properly scrub yourself.”
“Okay,” I muttered before walking upstairs to my room, feeling annoyed as usual.
Is the water bill too high, or do I stink? It’s got to be one or the other. Why else would he make such a statement? If I stink, which I know I do because of my fucking ostomy bag and my fucking drainage tube and my fucking wound, then tell me. If the water bill is too high, then tell me. Don’t give me some bullshit about how I’m not showering “properly.” If the water bill is high, I’m quite sure my technique of leaving the water running the entire duration of the shower – which is standard practice – isn’t to blame. It’s likely from all the toilet flushing I do, the result of my fucking overactive ostomy. Sorry my body is still a goddamned mess. Fucking fuck.
Some days I think I never should have left Halifax.