How To Be Alone

Begin each morning alone. Extend your arm and feel for the lines, indentations, warmth and softness of another body beside you. Touch only to find the smoothness of cool cotton sheets, the pillow as it were lain the night before. Find this space untouched, sanctimonious. For some time, do not dare to cross over to that side of the bed, should it lose all feeling, that scent, that touch.

Close your eyes in the shower. Keep them closed. Have breakfast standing at your kitchen counter, and breakfast is three mouthfuls, or eat nothing, which is always easier to swallow. Stand at your kitchen counter with coffee in your hands instead, have only part of it, because the sooner you leave your home, the sooner you will be able to escape part of it, of being alone.

Feel motionless outside, like deadweight, useless, an unnecessary occupation of essential space. See not a single familiar face beside you. Apologize constantly, even if you have nothing to do with it. Look down and away, in a manner one could describe to a friend as “blank” or “empty” or “alone”. Become overwhelmed with all this free time. Feel a sinking within you with the realization of how someone can take up so much of your time, your energy, your focus. Feel useless, feel listless.

Check your phone twice over, again and again. Probe inboxes. Search for clues, messages, signals, anything. Refresh refresh refresh only to come up with a 15% off deals of the day. Refresh again. Do this every hour, on the hour, whenever your hour should start. Come up with nothing, again. Unsubscribe from all subscriptions to make space for that one message you’re waiting for, I love you, I miss you, we need each other. Never receive that message.

Forgo all interests. Art, music, movies, eating, drinking. Forgo these things because you haven’t known how to do them alone, not for some while. Develop all sorts of fears. Fear standing in a line at a checkout. Fear going to the movies, fear getting a drink. Fear all the things you will now have to do alone, and then fear returning to an empty home.

beetlejuice

Begin each morning alone. Extend yourself into the luxuriousness of space. Feel the smooth coolness of the sheets against your skin. Roll into that untouched, sanctimonious space, that space you’ve created now specifically for each morning when your body is still hot from the night. Lay in that space as your body cools down.

Close your eyes in the shower. Keep them closed. Sing everything you’ll never have the courage to in front of friends; sing everything you want to sing for your friends. Sing for yourself. Sinatra, Simone. Feel the surge of water against your skin. Resolve to never give this up, this moment for yourself, this rite you’ve come to do and love. Have breakfast standing at your kitchen counter or on top of it. Pull a chair for yourself. Drain every last drop of your coffee till there are only dregs. Scramble an egg, when you have the time.

Run across streets, up stairs, down platforms. Feel a part of something, this commute with strangers like a pilgrimage. Commit to memory your favourite shoes of theirs’, and their worst. Continue from where you left off reading, turn a page and another. Mentally rewrite poorly crafted subway ads. Scowl at invaders of your personal space. Give your seat to someone who needs it more. Hold your breath as the stench of the summer undulates. Make plans to move elsewhere. Make plans to never leave. Make plans.

Check your phone at the end of the day and find messages from friends wanting to make plans. Hope it isn’t too late. Make a note of e-mails that need to be checked and replied to for later. Feel grateful for unsubscribing from subscriptions not too long ago. Admire its lack of excesses. Make calls, send messages, catch up.

Go the movies. Watch a postmodernist science fiction body horror film. It is bizarre. Tell friends to watch it. Wait in checkout lines. Get a drink, finish your reading under the dim lights. Extend yourself into the luxuriousness of space. Take your time. Return home tired, return home elated to be home, alone, at last. TC mark

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