Monday, October 25, 2010

On becoming a hermit

When my ex husband left, it was the first time I'd lived alone.


Not counting, of course, my kids. Still, it was the first time I was the only adult in the house. When I moved out after high school I had roommates. Then I got married. So last summer was the very first time I had ever lived alone.

I thought I might die.

You see, I was the kind of kid who freaked out when she was home alone, convinced that every noise was an intruder who was going to murder me before I could call 911. Once, I heard strange sounds and shimmied out the bathroom window and ran to the neighbors screaming there was a robber in the house.

It turned out the menacing sounds were coming from the litter of kittens we had in the house horsing around.


And fake intruders weren't my only fear...I have been known to barricade myself into a room upon seeing a cockroach. It was on the ceiling of my bedroom, and I slept outside in our Florida room, a towel shoved under the door to keep that pesky roach from coming after me.

Considering I was basically on a screened in porch, though, it wasn't my smartest move. There were undoubtedly many more bugs within reach there than the one hanging out in my bedroom.

I'm not always rational when frightened, if you couldn't tell.

The point of sharing those embarrassing anecdotes is just to illustrate why I thought I might die when my ex-husband left. In fact, he was convinced I would immediately ask my mom to move in and take care of me.

But there was no way I was going to admit defeat. I was going to survive being left if it killed me. It helped that most of the time, I was too exhausted to be scared, what with being pregnant and all. Too shell shocked to go out and socialize anywhere, especially if there were couples there. Like a phantom leg, my very alone-ness seemed glaringly obvious.

I should probably state that when my ex left, it wasn't just the first time I'd lived was, basically, the first time I'd been alone, as in without a significant other, since early in high school. I was a serial monogamist, always dating someone, then breaking up with them (or being broken up with) to date someone else. I always had a boyfriend, and then I had a husband. I had no idea how to function as Ellyn, sans sig fig, as we called them back in the day (stands for Significant Figure, for those of you less dorky than me).

So I was battling a double whammy. Alone at home, with no man to boot. A bunch of kids running around, and then, my dog died!

I always wanted a theme song, but I never thought it would be country.

Somehow, though, the months have flown by, and now I have gone over a year on my own in multiple senses of the word.

And in a turn I never would have imagined in a hundred years, what with me being very social and chatty, I have become a hermit.

Now there's a shocker.

For a while, being stuck at home was an imposition and I longed to go out and be around other grown ups. Before, I longed for a guy to share my life with, someone to marry and resume all the great parts about marriage with. Nights watching television and cuddling, dinners together, all that couple stuff. I made time to date, always thinking the next guy I went out with would be the one.

But somehow in the last few months, things have changed. What was an imposition is now a refuge. I love my alone time after the kids are in bed, even when it is spent studying. While I have had some great dates, something always stops me from letting them go beyond that. I am loath to give up the remote now that I have learned what it is like to control it. I may have caught myself, after a recent date, telling my friends that truthfully, I would have rather taken a nap. That's my new litmus test for whether it's worth going to all the effort it takes to go out on a he interesting enough to forego a nap? That's the question. Usually, the answer is no.

So, I'm a twenty eight year old hermit who may never meet anyone because I prefer naps and reading to leaving the house, because I like having the option to watch questionable reality television without remorse and I really, really enjoy finishing the ice cream without feeling bad about it. I like living alone.

Which is something I never, ever thought I'd say.

In fact, I'm a little disappointed in myself. I thought I'd be perfect prospect for remarriage. I have always felt reasonably sure I would end up married again and the biggest worry I would have was whether to change my name to be different than that of my children. But the longer I'm on my own, the more set in my ways I get. I never understood how that happened to people before, but then again, I'd never had the luxury of letting my ways get set.

All of this is to say that I think I may have to get some cats, because I'm reasonably sure I'm going to end up a spinster, a crazy old cat lady.

I can't decide if this is a pro or a con.
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