April 19, 2011

How To Be Alone

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Go to sleep too late. Wake up too early. Eat bagels in a strip mall with someone you had a class with at community college. Spend lunch breaks wandering grocery store aisles. Meet your mother at a diner. Attend “bar night” with some co-workers. Leave last. Smoke a cigarette. Paint your nails blue. Have sex right away or don’t have it at all. Look up flight prices to exotic locations. Write a craigslist ad and don’t respond to any of the replies.

Talk to people. Nod your head. Review conversations you’ve had. Suspect there’s something wrong with you. Take personality tests, expecting if not answers then at least a diagnosis. Move into a house with two men who become best friends. Go to the movies by yourself and pick one that starts in 15 minutes because it starts in 15 minutes. Buy an ice cream bar from the concession stand. See your roommates. All of you have tickets for the same movie. Bite your ice cream and grin at them.

Sublet a one-bedroom apartment. Buy a plant. Sleep in clothes. Pop zits. Talk into a miniature tape recorder. Photograph your kitchen. Drive to 24-hour grocery stores. Set three alarms. Listen to books on tape. Read until your muscles are cramped and it’s hard to be comfortable. Use old gift cards. Think of baking something. Think of fixing your bike. Take notes in biology. There is a class of bacteria that only survives in extreme climates like deep-sea hot springs. After class ask your professor what they’re called. He says “Archaea,” and looks like he wants to start a conversation.

Get little cuts on your hands from things no one else does. Edges of doors, Post-it notes, a pineapple. Feel like you need to pay people for interacting with you. Masturbate standing up in the living room looking out the window. Stare at an open sore on your finger. Rub it with saliva and watch the surrounding skin redden. Wonder if you’re allergic to yourself. Notice alien, almost slapstick qualities of your naked body in the mirror.

Move into your mom’s condo. “We’re just eating it because it’s here,” she says about a cake. At night she clamors around the kitchen, looking for pecans. She warns you of a man she’s seen in the bushes. After she goes to sleep, exercise in her condo’s small gym. Jog on the treadmill and watch six astronauts on TV receive time-delayed messages from their families. One astronaut is preoccupied with his watch. Run past the bushes on your way home.

Remember dates you’ve had. Take baths. Think of the empty space between atoms. Feel your pulse beat under your skin. It sounds like an ellipsis. Drive to see if “20 miles in one direction” is the same 20 miles back. On the radio, bursts of static interrupt traffic reports like sarcastic applause. Remember parties. Look at the phone as if it has a delicious meal it’s not sharing. Eat watermelon in your car. Stare at your fingers on the steering wheel. Wonder how you’re always driving towards the horizon without vanishing into it. Spend two hours in a craft store searching for something you keep forgetting. Examine a cardboard cylinder of pink bath salt. Imagine a team of three miners shaving minerals off giant pink stalagmites in a prehistoric cave, surrounded by air no one else has breathed.

Look for sublets in Vermont, Madrid, Hong Kong. Buy the first deodorant you ever wore. Buy fruits you haven’t tried. Slip and slice open your finger instead of a coconut. Find a cheap flight to Florida and book a three-day vacation. Try to pay for earplugs at the airport newsstand. The woman behind the counter asks to see your photo ID. She says, squinting more at you then your driver’s license, “This doesn’t look like you.” TC mark

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