Remember college when you shared a tiny dorm room with a complete stranger your freshman year? And then moved into a house with somewhere between 5 and 15 of your best friends? Remember how much fun that was? Yeah, those were the days. And then suddenly, you graduate and become real people with jobs you actually have to go to every day and alarms you can’t snooze until it’s time to start drinking. And you get emails that you actually have to read. And you have to use your grown up phone voice all the time and your favorite ripped jeans are reserved for lazy Sundays only. And perhaps you live with all your best friends still (I did), but it’s just not the same. You’re adjusting. You’re growing up. And it sort of sucks. You can’t get away with never cleaning the shower and exclusively using paperware to avoid having to do the dishes. Storming home at 3am with tree branches, traffic cones and a few strangers nice enough to give you a ride is no longer acceptable. You all end up hating each other. And then, to save your friendships and your whole no-murders-on-my-record streak, you decide to live alone. And it’s awesome (seriously. Everyone needs to live alone once in their life. I urge you to do this). But like anything you do for the first time, there are some things you need to get used to and some tricks to learn before you do it well.
1) There is no fairy who places Polly-O String Cheese in the fridge for you – There are certain things I refuse to actually purchase from the grocery store even though I like them. This may be because it’s too fattening for me to not feel guilty buying, too white trash for my own comfort level (I’m looking at you cheese puffs), or because it feels a little too ridiculous to buy knowing that if someone opens the fridge you’re the only person to blame for the selections inside. I’m not sure exactly where Polly-O String Cheese fits on this list, but it’s always been such a ridiculous food, in my mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love string cheese. In fact, for years this was the number one most stolen drunk food by yours truly. My roommates have never had the same feelings about Polly-O String Cheese that I do and continued to stock their designated shelves with this snack. And I would stumble home, stealthily open the fridge, and take down a Polly-O in my bed before passing out. Well guess what. No more Polly-Os when you live solo. You want something, you have to buy it. There’s no one to borrow a slice of bread or some milk from when you don’t have time to stop on the way home and really want a sandwich or cereal. This explains why I only had old almond milk, minced garlic, and a Brita pitcher in my refrigerator for about 4 months.
2) It’s no one’s fault the shower looks like that – I don’t mind cleaning. In fact, dusting and dishes and Windex’ing are kind of fun in that I-have-OCD sort of way and I feel better after it’s all cleaned up. I don’t even care about cleaning the toilets and counter and mopping the floor in the bathroom. But anything that has to do with the shower is just too much for me to bear. Whether it’s changing the shower curtain lining or scrubbing the tub, the whole thing creeps me out. I’ve actually negotiated with roommates to get out of having to clean the shower. I would clean anything else. ANYTHING. Just not the shower. Now, that shower is all mine. And it shouldn’t gross me out because I’M THE ONLY ONE USING THE SHOWER, but I literally have to psych myself up for days to do this. I have to treat myself to 16 Handles after. I put on rubber gloves and my “shower cleaning shoes” and I do a really shitty job. Luckily, I don’t wear glasses in the shower and can’t see all that well in there anyway. I’ve found that if I keep up with the occasional quick wipe down, I never have to do a big clean.
3) Cable and internet are expensive – And honestly, just not worth it. You can easily spend $150+ on cable and internet in an apartment. Assuming you have 1 or 2 roommates, the cost isn’t that bad. But when you’re taking that on solo (along with rent and other utilities), it just doesn’t make the list of necessities. There are plenty of people who don’t secure their Wifi or have easy codes to guess, you’ll get lucky eventually. That plus stealing borrowing your parents cable login will give you the ability to stream whatever you want from HBO and Showtime and spending 10 bucks or less on Netflix or Hulu takes care of anything else. There are definitely some people out there who disagree with me, but I did the cost/ benefit analysis of having cable and internet and for the amount of time I’m actually in my apartment each month, and it’s just not worth it. But I really miss mindlessly watching TLC and Food Network marathons on #NoPantsDay
4) Every guy you bring home might potentially kill you and no one will hear your screams – Yes, this is something I actually think about. Most guys I meet either have roommates or live solo in Brooklyn or Queens (and let’s be honest, I’m not leaving Manhattan). So that means conjugal visits typically take place in my apartment. And before each encounter begins I think do I really know this person? How do I know they’re not going to murder me? Do any of my friends know what my plans are tonight? How thin are these walls / will my neighbors be brave enough to save me from being raped and maimed? Are these normal thoughts? I don’t know. I watched 7 seasons of Dexter in like 2 months, maybe my thinking is a little skewed. But these are the thoughts I have. If I had a roommate, I know they’d be obligated to save my life, unless they wanted to end up as #1 on the detective’s persons of interest list.
5) That delivery minimum is hard to hit – a $15 minimum for a restaurant order doesn’t seem that bad right? Well when you’re ordering from a pizza place or the hummus shop (don’t judge me), some of the appeal is that the food is cheap and delicious. But if you’re spending 15 bucks BEFORE tax and tip, what’s the point? Lazy Sunday nights with delivery and Girls suddenly becomes a big pain in the ass and you actually have to leave your apartment so you don’t spend three times the amount you normally would just to get delivery. Sure, you could over-order and take lunch the next day or something but you know what would be easier? If you had a roommate who would order with you. Even if you hate each other, you can just split the tab and go into your respective rooms when the food comes to watch the same shows alone. This is what living with people is all about!
6) You’re going to be alone a lot – For some people, this is a problem. Not so for me. I’ve loved my alone time since I was a baby and my mother couldn’t drag me out of my crib. I like to sleep 10 uninterrupted hours, come home from a hectic day and just enjoy the quiet for 5 fucking minutes. I relish the moments after I close the door behind me, put on my sweats and just sit on the couch. I love not leaving my apartment on cold Sunday afternoons when all the other freaks are watching football at bars and high-fiving strangers. But sometimes you really want to hang out with someone or hear what your voice sounds like or just share oxygen with other people and no one is around. And then you’re alone. No one is there to shoot the shit with you or look at the funny thing you just stumbled across while Facebook stalking or give you advice about what shoes look better with your Saturday night outfit. You have to make an effort to do these things. You have to use your phone. Even I sometimes put pants on on Sundays and head to Starbucks to get writing done because I can’t stand the ticking clock in my apartment. You don’t always need conversation, but sometimes you need to be around people. If you can’t handle being alone, you’ll hate living solo.
…but do it anyway. You’ll learn to like the silence. Promise.