From Inside the Hurricane

I’m sitting in my warm, warm bed (which I moved away from the windows last night), listening to Michael Bloomberg and the howling wind outside.

Bloomberg is new. The howling wind is not. I live on the third floor of a poorly insulated building in Brooklyn (not in an evacuation zone, don’t worry), and if there’s even a slight breeze it sounds like the ghosts of damned shrieking through the streets.

Just in case you somehow missed it, Hurricane Sandy is coming to New York City. No subways and buses, no tunnels, no delivery Chinese. That’s why I’m listening to Bloomberg’s earlier briefing on what the city’s doing, shouting out from my hurricane nest to you. I have food, water, and bourbon, and a stack of books the height of toddler, so I’m prepared. I still have electricity and I just started Breaking Bad yesterday, so I’m all set. I hear some people are having storm parties, but I’m happy just like this.

This hurricane has given me a reason to put off posts on two topics I was considering writing about this week (one piece tentatively titled “Me & Mr. Ryan”) to write about something else entirely. This week, Kirin wrote about being introspective. I would like to add a little to that conversation by writing about being alone.

Whoa whoa whoa. Don’t bust out your annoyed/well-meaning comments, like “You’ll find someone!” or “Don’t be like that, you’re so young.” I don’t mean “alone” as in “single forever and unmourned when I die”. I simply mean “being by myself”, much as I am right now. On this hurricane weather day, I expect to spend at least 20 hours exclusively with myself. This doesn’t upset me. I’m not depressed. To the contrary, I’m pleased. I’m overjoyed, because I love being alone.

Things I like to do by myself include: watching movies, seeing plays, writing, reading books, dancing (with myself), sleeping, showering, cooking.

Of course, I also like to do some of those things with other people. But, as Kirin and I both said in a conversation the other day, should we ever decide to live with a significant other, we might want to have separate bedrooms. Yes, I know! Hold back your gasps. That doesn’t mean I would never to want to share a bed with someone. It just means I would occasionally like the opportunity to sleep by myself, in my own bed. Does this mean I have intimacy issues? No. It means that I need time to be with myself to recharge, in order to be around other people.

It’s like this: when you’re a writer, you write about things you have learned or experienced. But if all you do is write about writing, eventually, your work will get boring. That’s how I feel about spending time alone. I need to recharge, so that when I do hang out with my friends, they don’t already know all there is to know about me. I once knew somebody who told me that being alone was a waste of time, as though any time not spent in the company of others somehow didn’t count. I can understand that impulse, looking at the pseudo-philosophical logic of it. If I spent all of my time alone, who would know I existed at all?

But when I’m reading or writing I see proof of myself in every word.

I am not telling you that you’re wrong if you don’t like to be by yourself. I’m an outgoing person, with the kind of face that makes everyone stop and ask me for directions. I look friendly. And I am. I’ll talk to you about anything until you say something offensive or turn out to be crazy. But in order to keep up my good will, to keep up my confidence and joy in others, I need to be alone.

So I’m going to spend this hurricane day reading and watching French movies from the command center of my room. I’ll work on Me & Mr. Ryan (for which I know you’re all excited), and when we see each other next, it will be that much better.


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