Me, myself, and I
I got a library card the other day. I’m part of something communal, something larger than myself. I borrowed a book. A fiction book. I haven’t read fiction in ages, haven’t lost myself in a good story since God knows when. Over the Christmas break, I brushed up on my Rousseau - enlightening, but not necessarily light reading. So it felt good to read for the simple pleasure of watching words come alive.
More than the joy of reading, I felt good walking into the library and choosing the book in the first place. I belong here. I have a library card, I’m part of the club.
Being part of the club is important when you’re lonely. We’re all lonely in a way, but the feeling intensifies when you live by yourself.
For all the downsides to having roommates - labeling your food, coordinating shower times, splitting the utility bills - there’s still that tenuous bond that comes with cohabitation.
I’ve tried to fill that lack of community in different ways. Playing at open mics and hanging about in a few of my favourite coffeeshops helps to quell the loneliness for a time. Sometimes I’ll get cabin fever and spring from my desk chair as if from live coals, and head over to Baltimore House for a pot of Earl Grey tea with that slice of lemon they put in it.
Other times I’ll go for a walk in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, just to stir my sense of adventure. There’s nothing like curiosity to stave off the dull insanity of being alone. I breathe the unfamiliar sent of someone’s cedar hedge and fantasize that I’ve lived here all my life, pretending that that whiff of fresh greenery holds childhood memories.
The greatest distraction from my solitude is food. There’s always a new cafe to check out, always a new corner store to get that same old late-night junk food. But the black licorice, bags of jujubes, and chocolate-covered almonds can only do so much for me.
I find I impulse-shop a lot more when I’m living on my own. A picture frame here, some exotic spices for an unusual recipe there, maybe a book or a dvd that I don’t really need. It’s certainly an appreciable difference from my spending habits when I’m living with friends.
Is it callous to attempt to quantify this? If I added up all my excess expenditures, would I be able to measure the value of companionship? I’ll leave that question hanging for now, because I can’t bear to find out how much I’m missing.Sam Nabi