“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
When I woke up that morning I had no idea that I would be starting another chapter of my life. I don’t even think that ‘chapter’ is the correct term. This is an entirely new episode. All I knew was that my daughter was coming for a visit. This was exciting for me, to be honest. Living up in Playa Vista (West Los Angeles, Marina del Rey adjacent) was like living in the black hole of human contact. Kelsey visiting was something different. This was a gift in what had become a monotonous, and lonely life.
At some point “being alone”, which was a good thing, a time of self-discovery, turned into “being lonely”, a not good thing. Jules being lonely starts turning into anxiety. With anxiety comes agoraphobia. Kelsey’s visit was like a giant anti-anxiety injection. A much needed prescription.
I need human interaction. Not a big party, not even deep conversations. Sometimes I just need someone in the room. Sometimes I just need a hug. Meaningful interaction.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously there are humans in Los Angeles. There are scores of humans in Los Angeles. I even know some of them. Here is the thing; I know doctors, nurses, receptionists. A couple of those people even hug me every once and awhile. (I am sort of huggable!)
You also probably know that I have a roommate. A busy roommate. Up, and out of the house by 7:00 or 8:00 AM, and not home again until close to midnight. A click of the door in the middle of the night, barking dogs. I roll out of bed, and out to the patio, our favorite place to talk, and hear about the long day. Then, back to bed. In the morning: coffee on the patio, what are your plans for the day? Then back to the anonymity of Los Angeles. Back to doctors, pharmacies, checking my mailbox, buying groceries, and off to Unleashed to buy dog food.
I am not blaming my roommate, I am crediting him. The time I was alone forced me to learn to do for ME. I used to rely on him for dog walking, for grabbing food at the bodega, for little things. When you are an anxiety ridden agoraphobe, the little things mean so much. Take that crutch away, I have to do for myself. So, I am not blaming him, not one bit.
On the day of Kelsey’s visit, being with someone I missed so much, I also got some cryptic text messages about my living situation. I decided it was time to pack up some bags and head south.
It was time to go home. It was time to go back to ‘Jules Alone’ rather than ‘Jules Lonely’. It was that day that I decided I needed to be near my family. I needed to head south, to a place where a visit from Kelsey won’t be a rare event. I needed to be in a place where my parents could visit all their kids in one spot.
I needed to be in a place that offered the full support of family that a Chronically Awesome person can hope to get in her time of need.
Now the scramble. I had a place to stay, but not for long. I was to stay in the guest bedroom in my former home. The guest room had a specific expiration date. There was another guest on the way. I had to find a place to stay, to live, before that guest arrived. I was not, being tossed out on my ear. My husband and I while separated, are close. So, that did not stop him from doing what you might think would be the impossible. He got right on the internet with me, and we created a list of suitable apartments in the area, we got in the car, we began the hunt.
We found “home” by the second property we visited. Not only was the apartment nearly perfect (second floor walk up, that is my only gripe), the staff was amazing. They did everything possible to get me into the unit I wanted. They loved my dogs, they loved me.
I am not sure if ever there was a move-in to happen so fast. To be standing in Costco and get a call that I could come and get keys to my new apartment.
I have no furniture. What do I do first? I dashed to the store and I bought a bed, a dresser, a nightstand. My entire bedroom arrived the next day. A place to sleep, that was the most important thing to start with.Then there was cable and a TV, and going all by myself and buying a couch. Going to Home Depot and buying plants for my gigantic 12×12 patio. Going ALONE to Ikea to get the this and that one might need when moving into one’s first apartment.
Can you believe that? I am 44 years old and I just moved into my first apartment. I have never lived alone in my entire life. I have always had a someone with me. I have had my parents, my dorm mates, my spouses, my roommates, my child.
For eight days I have lived alone. I have not lived lonely, I have lived alone.
I took a trip back to Los Angeles, and brought a giant load of my “stuff”. It was way too much, I over did it. Eight to ten trips with the cart overflowing down five flights in the elevator. That was all loaded by me into my car. I hurt myself. So, I listened to my body, and I am taking a couple of days off. I think I will get the car washed and do some grocery shopping.
I am independent. I am reading, and watching TV. I am walking the dogs, and hanging pictures. I am wondering what sort of coffee table, and media table I want.
What I WANT.
I don’t have to ask a soul if they think this looks good, or if they like that. If I want pink cereal bowls, and matching tumblers, damn it that is what I am getting. That is what I got.
So, this is the new episode, and in this episode I start a new chapter.
When I read a book, I don’t read the table of contents, I don’t read the last page. I read a book like I live life. I just live it. Life comes at us quickly, and we have to be ready to act when things happen. I woke up one morning ready to have a day. Ready to have a visit with my daughter. Instead of one visit, I went home with her. And since that day we’ve gone shopping at the mall, she and her boyfriend have helped me haul stuff. We’ve had dinner, we’ve laughed, we’ve fought.
Since that morning I have grown up.
In these past eight days I have cried a little, I have been briefly lonely. I have shopped the shit out of Ikea until my car was too full to pack anymore into it. I bought enough at Home Depot to inspire a man in the parking lot to stop what he was doing to empty my cart into my car for me. I sat in my therapists office on Thursday, and with great pride, displayed photos of my apartment. I regaled her with stories of the things that I have done ALONE. I have done these things with great pride, things I would have never been able to do before. Things that those months of alone in Los Angeles taught me to do. Things that the time of lonely got me just angry enough to fight back against.
I left home when I was seventeen years old, but I never in reality left home. I went from one shared home to another, and then another. I never spread my wings. I never leapt from the nest. And this? This may have been a bit of a push, but it was the push I needed.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan