For the first week or so it was too quiet and I was too aware of how noisy I am by myself. I hadn’t unpacked my Bluetooth speakers and every time I didn’t have my laptop open everything was calm. The quiet is great because I sleep like a log, as someone who needs to get her sleep during the week this is wonderful. You lie down, it’s super dark, it’s super quiet and, when you’re not worried about someone breaking in through the front door, or hiding in your bathroom storage or closet, it’s lights out in less than 10 minutes. I wake up rested, no snooze alarms, no lying in bed wishing I didn’t have to get up. Mainly because now my morning routine can be whatever I like it to be. Do I want to make a smoothie with the incredibly loud blender at 6 am? Yes. Yes, I do. Mango smoothie here I come.
There are boxes everywhere still, more so now because my bed frame arrived yesterday and is now lying in parts all over the hallway and the bedroom floor. So although it is starting to feel more like my own home, it still also feels like I only just moved in. There is no routine of comfort yet. No place to sit and read for hours, no perfect painting and drawing set up. But that will all come soon, very soon. I’ve already started cooking in this place and actually went to the awesome little grocery store for the first time today. I’ve got enough storage now, thanks to everyone who donated furniture to me, and even a TV! So it’s slowly becoming a place I don’t want to leave anytime soon, especially when I sit outside on the porch, on the new big chair and drink a cup of tea whilst the sunrises over the Chicago skyline.
Being alone has ups and downs. The ups being that it is really quite nice to be able to just spend time with yourself and work on things. I find myself far more productive because I know that no-one else will get things done except me. If I don’t go out and buy a plunger and unclog the damn toilet then I can’t use the toilet, so out I go and after one trip to Maynard’s the toilet is now fixed. Last year I was a little bit of a hermit, which I deemed essential in a way because I was trying to feel better about myself. My solution was to spend so much time by myself that I had to sort out my issues and it did work I guess. This means living on my own isn’t so daunting, I’m not scared of my own company.
But even though I’m not scared, being alone means there are no barriers between you and yourself. Julian Baker has a very good song about this that made me sob on my way home yesterday because it hit a spot so close to home it was almost unbearable. When you feel bad, or your anxiety or depression sets in there is no-one to help relieve that. You have no roommate to talk to, or not even the presence of someone else being home that can sometimes be comforting. It’s just you facing yourself and you have to come to some very big realisations about the person you are. This has only happened to me once so far, yesterday, after a particularly stressful week where I was just feeling defeated, deflated and down. It was difficult and next time I will probably follow my gut instinct of not going home, but getting off the bus at Crown and going to hang out for a couple of hours with a book.
When I was a kid living on my own in an apartment in America was so glamourous. I always imagined it like in TV shows, where I would be the most grown up, interesting, awesome person. I don’t feel very grown up at all, I feel about the same as I always have done. I am still just the same. I am lucky on finding this amazing apartment deal, and I love living in a loft. If this was a TV show it was a) be so incredibly boring but b) I would have the right kind of quirky apartment to suit my character. I think that’s what makes it easier being by myself in a way, that this apartment is so much an extension of my personality. It’s unconventional and has its flaws but is warm and welcoming and quirky.
I’m looking at all experiences as something that will help me grow as a person, and I guess this was the essential next step in my life. I needed my own space and lucked out enough to find somewhere that isn’t terrible. Someone asked me if I thought this was an experience everyone should try, but I don’t know if it is. It suits certain personalities better than others. I lived in a house full of my family, then in two more with different groups of friends so you never really had time to yourself. So now I have this whole space with just me and I love it but it also feels too empty right now. I am totally going to end up getting myself a pet of some kind, or a Google Home unit to occasionally talk to.
Maryam Hassan is a 32 year old Photographer, Montessori Teacher, Wearer of Yellow from London who transplanted herself to Chicago in 2015. She likes punk music, hash browns, animal facts and mangoes.
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