Once upon a time, I lived alone; I lived in a one bedroom apartment by myself. My friend and I went shopping at Furniture Row where I opened up a credit card and bought dark wood furniture for all three of my rooms. It took six weeks for the furniture to come in, so until then, I slept on the floor. All I had brought with me from Washington to Nebraska was what would fit in my Saturn: books and clothes and a box of memories.
I had a tv, but no cable or bunny ears. I spent my time at work, and then came home, read my books, listened to music, and wrote. I cleaned the place frequently. It was small, and soon full of furniture, but it was my cozy little nook. The fridge was full of Mug root beer, bagels, and smoked turkey; the cupboards of pasta and Swiss cake rolls. It was meager living, but I was myself.
And now, I am still me, but I don’t always feel myself. I have a job that stresses me out, at times so much that I forget who I am. I am too conscientious now of money and how much things cost and that I’m not making enough or saving enough. At home, I work out, as to not gain as much weight as I’m consuming. Then I watch tv because it’s there and so am I and I don’t want to put the effort it takes into doing anything else.
There are things to do: cleaning is now a daylong project, not a fifteen minute chore. There are events I feel guilted into attending, even though I don’t want to. Even those things that are supposed to be fun, like a happy hour with the girls from work, sometimes feels exhausting because I just want to be at home by myself, with my iPod and a puzzle. I want to feel myself again.
Sometimes I feel completely myself for a moment, when I’m reading a book of poetry or listening to an older country song, but it’s the exception now. I feel like I’m constantly being poked and proded into a responsible adult. That’s not who I am. I am that person who doesn’t consider money and overdrafts her account. I’m that person that will spend three hours on a walk because I have no agenda. I was that person who drove an old beater car because it meant something to her.
I am losing myself in an endless cycle of alarm clocks, DVR recordings, and monthly budgets. I have become the responsible adult. But I long to feel myself – the girl who did what she wanted when she wanted and always felt at peace. Sure, it isn’t responsible or respectable at my age, but it was familiar territory.