Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Solitary Woman

Ahhhhhhhh, the single life.

Well, not really, but Mike is on a business trip this week, so I am pretending for a few days. Whoa, don’t go getting any ideas there; I’m not going to go out on dates or to a bar to pick up a suitable temporary boyfriend-replacement or anything. In fact, I’m not sure that I even remember how to do that. I am, however, going to revel in my aloneness.

Monday night I watched television for two straight hours. I held the remote loosely in my hand knowing that no one would stroll into the room and sneakily snatch it from my grip under the guise of a fake hug. I did not flip channels 9.4 million times during commercials; I watched every single one of them because I work in marketing, and I like commercials, and I want to watch them, dammit. I engrossed myself in the episodes of The Girls Next Door that I had Tivoed, and even cried when one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends talked about her brother being overseas in Iraq. No one laughed at me, no one commented that one of the girls is hotter than another, no one mentioned the fact that I, an intelligent, feminist career-woman, was shedding actual tears over a show about the Playboy Mansion.

I didn’t cook dinner, but instead ate leftovers out of a big bowl with a big spoon and shared with the dog. I picked through the new candy I bought to put out for Christmas. Some of the flavors were really good; some were not so good. I tasted all of the different kinds and spat the not-so-good ones into a napkin.

I closed the blinds and sang show tunes at the top of my lungs in the living room, incorporating my own choreography. Normally when I start singing, Mike immediately turns the stereo on, as if my breaking out into song is simply a desperate cry to hear music, instead of an expression of my feelings. It’s not as if I’m a horrible singer; I’m positive I would advance to the Hollywood portion of American Idol*, especially if Simon Cowell had seen Monday night's performance. However, Mike doesn’t seem to appreciate the rare talent that exists right there under the same roof. My dog likes my singing and even follows me around when I really get going; his favorite song is Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me. Mike is missing out.

It started to get a little late, so I decided to try on outfits for a while. Then I went on MySpace and looked at the profiles of everyone I went to high school with while I sipped one of Mike’s good, dark beers stolen from the back of the fridge. I wore my rattiest sweatshirt and my comfy pants that Mike has deemed the “unsexiest” item of clothing I own. I blared Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile and Alanis Morisette on iTunes, and dedicated the songs to “all of my listeners out there enjoying a little 'me-time' tonight.”

I had a full-on conversation with my dog about how pretty the tree looked with all of the decorations, and how much snow he thought we were going to get overnight, and what he wanted for Christmas. Then I let him get into the bed with me. We had been up way past our bedtimes.

I woke up the next morning all stretched out, a proverbial X across our bed, hoarding pillows and blankets. I was so comfortable and well rested. And, ok, maybe just a tiny bit lonely.

Last night, I ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for dinner. The kind with the day-glo orange powdered cheese. Mike is a foodie, capable of creating amazing gourmet meals, and so am I, but I also appreciate my childhood comfort foods. Mike does not. I think his parents must have started feeding him caviar and Duck Confit while he was still in the high-chair because he has never understood how I can eat “that stuff.” I, on the other hand, love the simplicity of a kiddie-meal. Give me some chicken fingers or reconstituted cheese-sauce a couple of times a year, and I am happy as a clam. A fried clam.

I watched two chick flicks in a row last night. I painted my toenails, plucked my eyebrows, and polished some of my jewelry. I drank another one of those dark beers.

Tonight, I am planning to read for four straight hours without someone asking me if I have seen his volleyball shorts anywhere. But first, I have to shovel the snow. I also have to lug the huge recycling bin down the front steps and out into the street and take the trash out through the dark garage into the dark alley. This morning, I had to scrape the ice off of my own car, something Mike always sweetly does without being asked.

Wait a second, now I am sort of starting to miss him.

See? I do miss Mike when he’s gone, but then I remember that he will be home in a couple of days, so I go back to basking in the joy of unaccompaniament. Until I have to go down into the dark, scary basement and turn off a light that I don’t even remember turning on. That’s just spooky.

I lived alone for five years before I met Mike. Before that, I was raised by a single mother in a house full of girls. My sisters and I learned to do it all, the boy-chores and the girl-chores, and the spooky stuff, at very early ages. I have fixed my own plumbing, changed oil and several tires, taken tons of garbage out, lifted furniture, and removed many difficult lids in my lifetime. I am very capable of these things, and I loved every single minute of my single days, but there are certain things that a girl, even a strong-woman type of a girl, can get used to a man taking care of. I can still do it all myself, but I kind of just don’t want to anymore. Mike does such a good job at those things (with some minimal nagging), and on top of it, I really just like hanging around him. Who knew that would ever happen to me?

I never used to picture myself settling down. I always just assumed that I would be a little bit of a loner for my whole life, spending time with my great friends, but then going home by myself. Eventually, when I became a famous and wealthy author, I would adopt a child or two and spend my time on charity missions like Angelina Jolie pre-Brad-Pitt. My parents were divorced when I was so young that the single parent lifestyle always made so much sense to me, and was even sort of appealing. Now, though, my outlook has shifted a little bit. I am starting to understand what my girlfriends were pining for all of those years.

I think it took me finding a guy like Mike, my polar opposite who will always have a million things going on, a social butterfly with a crazy calendar. I contrast him with my desire to be alone with myself on a weekly basis, on the couch with a book, singing show tunes with gusto, or running solo, iPod-filled miles on the treadmill. He with his twelve team sports to play, his million friends calling on the phone, and his uncanny ability to get the dog riled up right before bed. I, a little more guarded about whom I spend my time with, a little more content to pass up a crazy night on the town, and a little more annoyed with a happy dog dropping a wet, slimy tennis ball next to my sleeping face at three in the morning. Mike is so anal about certain things, and way too lax about others, and I am his exact contradiction, not properly abiding by the rules of his inanely organized cabinets and drawers, but then going crazy over a pile of boxers on the floor in the bathroom. Oh yeah, we also crack each other up to the point that our cheeks hurt.

In lieu of all of my solitary intentions, I got a crush a few years back that I haven’t been able to make myself get over. I got sucked in. I got stripped of my strong-single-girl crown. I got sold, but I have no buyer’s remorse. I found the guy I was supposed to find, and he found me, and we get each other. It’s a Gershwin song come true, right here in Denver, Colorado, and it is just all so friggin sappy that I don’t even know what to do with myself.

Actually, the ball and chain isn’t back for a couple more days; I’m sure I can figure something out.

*I know that I am too old to try out for American Idol. No one needs to remind me.


Crabby McSlacker said...

My sweetie is out of town too; a couple of weeks this time which is longer than her normal business trips.

It's funny, the very things I love about being on my own get old after a week or so--I love not putting things away and I start keeping weird hours and eating odd meals. But I find i start getting lazier and lazier without the normal routine. Doing dishes starts to feel like a tremendous burden when there's no one to notice if I do it or not. Plus a phone call is NOT the same as a live human being!

(And I love that your dog likes your singing and follows you around. That's very sweet.).

Lainey said...

Great post.

I'm living on my own for the first time ever and you've reminded me why it's so great.

Looking forward to reading more.


Maggie said...

Rock on, Cara! You know how to live.

I actually never lived alone, I always had a room mate. I think that may have something to do with me becoming a mess when my husband leaves overnight.

(I teared up a little too, during that episode. But Colin was home, so I got laughed at.)

Cara said...

Thanks, ladies!
Crabby- I definitely hear you on the slacking whilst loved-one is out of town. I need to do dishes so badly right now, but there is no one to be accountable to, so...maybe one more night.

Lainey- thanks for stopping by. I loved living alone. I hope you get everything out of it that I did. It made me realize how much I can accomplish on my own.

Maggie- :) someone who understands my weird obsession with The Girls Next Door. Who knew that bad reality tv could be so good? heehee! Btw, I am totally inspired to find out about the 3-day here in Denver. I may just get up the guts to go for it like you are.

That girl from Shallotte said...

Sweetie Darling-

I love a Gershwin song come true. Keep blogging.

Your new pal

katieo said...

OH I loved this post.
Same as the crab, when my husband leaves, I LOVE it for about a week or so. Then I turn in to wussius majorus. There's just something about the freedom that's so wonderful, (even with the ankle-biters), and then it starts to not feel so much like freedom as it does loneliness. (I LOVE that you ate Kraft Mac N'Cheese. Our dinner specialty when Dad's gone is Raisin Bran. Or Lucky Charms if I'm feeling especially daring)

ThickChick said...

Assuming I were a much better writer, I might have written this post myself! C will be gone for around a month starting Dec 21st (in a Chinese jungle = no internet/no phone!) and I know I'll miss him terribly....However, I'm trying to remind myself of all of the things I took great pleasure in as a long time member of the single gal/living alone club. Great post!

Maggie said...

Oh, you should! I'm still a little scared, but definitely excited.

I am a little obessed with that show, I don't know why but I can't help it! Holly is my favorite and for some reason, Colin can't stand her. Men.

Cara said...

The Girl from Shallotte- I'm so glad you stopped by. Your blog is fab! Life is not always a Gershwin song, but in this case, it seems to work out that way.

Katie- You are so funny. I swear that Cheerios were the main staple of my diet when I lived alone. I would even eat them plain out of the box like a two year old.

ThickChick- I love you writing. Your blog always makes me smile. Mike went to Africa for three weeks with no phone, etc. last year, and at first I thought it was going to be the worst, but it was actually really good for us. We needed to miss each other that bad to appreciate what we had. Also, it made us realize that we are an awesome couple, but we are still both really great individuals, too.

Maggie- I looked, but there is no 3-Day in denver this year...maybe I will have to travel to do it. I love Bridget...Kendra annoys me, and I like to yell at her image on the screen as if she can hear me telling her not to be such a punk. :)