The last time I lived with anyone was three years ago. Since then, I’ve been on my own, either in New Haven or here in Brazil. At first, it was hard to live alone since I’d been used to living with a boyfriend, and for the six years before that, with roommates. However, I remember thinking how nice it was, after a while of single living, to be with just myself, especially since I was a first year teacher and spent most of my day talking or freaking out and it was nice to come home to silence. For a while there, just before I left for Brazil, I lived with Dennis and his family in their home in Woodbridge. It was heaven. Not only because I was with a guy I loved, but because it wasn’t lonely at all. I was never alone or forgotten and it was lovely.
Then, moving here, I was on my own again. Living alone, starting all over from scratch, alone, alone. Alone in a country in which I knew no other people, alone in my language, alone in my living room. While I quickly grew to speak the language and meet other people, I rarely invited them or the language into my living room, thus leaving the only really lonely place as my house.
But it wasn’t so much an empty, loveless space as it was my place of respite from all the unknowns and discomforts out in that new world called Brazil. The apartment was quiet when the streets were loud. It was cool when the temperature was hot. It was roomy and spacious when the buses were cramped and stifling. It was a space all my own and I did with it what I wanted and put things in places I knew would be there in the morning–or two months later–and I could do what I wanted to do in it. I had a routine in my space everyday, and though it was a quiet and apparently lonely routine on the outside, it was comfortable and predictable on the inside.
And then my Dennis came and I was forced to reconfigure everything. If I rebelled at all, (I don’t know why I said “if;” there is no such thing as “if”), it was because I hadn’t realized how settled I’d become. While the world outside my apartment whirled and spun in its crazy Brazilian way, inside my apartment it was just me. Or rather, I had been accustomed to it just being me and when it wasn’t, I didn’t react well. I don’t think I was a very good roommate.
My mom and her friend have this joke from a long time ago, when one said to the other, “I like being with you. It’s like being with me.” It may be funny to them, but just now, as that thought popped into my mind, I wondered: “What is it like to be with me?” It couldn’t have been that much fun since, thanks to Dennis’ presence, I was forced to see myself and my routine and wasn’t anywhere near entertained.
I guess I lived in bliss when I was alone since there was no way for me to judge what was obnoxious or abnormal or boring about myself. But when Dennis arrived, he was the metaphorical mirror of myself, showing me by his own actions or raised eyebrows the things about myself I wouldn’t have noticed had I remained on my own. For instance, even though I am on the computer nearly the whole day at work, it was still part of my routine to come home and sit in front of it again. Not only is this boring, it’s completely anti-social. But it was comfortable for me, so I thought nothing of it. Another example is the fact that I can get by on popcorn for dinner every night of the week. When, after a few days of being here he realized that I was not bothering to go to the grocery store to pick up actual food, he made some comment about needing something of substance and we made several trips to the store and stocked the fridge with goodness. I didn’t make a single bowl of popcorn for two months, even though it’s what I’d grown accustomed to.
If it weren’t for Dennis, however, I would have missed out on tons of good things. Like free music festivals. Like good food (real, good food.) Like walks around the city. If I stayed only with myself, I would probably have been comfortable, yes, but not interesting at all. I dare say, that if the tables were turned and I were like Dennis and he were like me, I would have broken up with myself and told myself to get a life.
As much as I’d like to laugh at my mom and her friend’s joke, I think it’s simply incorrect. I like being with Dennis because he’s not like me. I have no problem with myself when it’s just me, but my love for my boyfriend is much stronger than my hermit tendancies. It was nice to have a break from myself–maybe we all need breaks from ourselves now and then. I’m glad to have gotten that glimpse of myself because things were looking pretty grim. But the popcorn? It’s back, and better than ever.
Come on. You’ve got to give me something.