Sunday, March 18, 2007

Alone

Privacy is huge to me.

"Yeah right!", you say as you read me being seriously un-private on a public blog. "Clearly privacy means little to you!"

Ah-ha! But you would be mistaken. Yes, I am, 99.9% full-disclosure-gal. But I have been known to hold some things back.

I have so! Stop snickering, you!

But privacy of my stories and the privacy of my self are different things.

If asked a direct question, odds are STRONG I will answer fully (sometimes too fully) and honestly. It's a little promise I made to myself a thousand years ago, when I was young and the world was new and dinosaurs roamed. The good part of that is that people rarely ask the tough questions, so the answers are easy to give.

Plus it makes life simpler.

I grew up in a house filled with lies and secrets, it was a nightmare. Lies were a way of life for my parents... and from what I can see it just made them more miserable than they were to begin with; which is saying a lot. So I'm all about the openess.

Most people, in my experience, do not enjoy solitude all that much. They need other people around, sometimes to the point that they will marry just to assure that someone, anyone, is there. This is not always a wise move, because that someone might turn out to be very bad news. Oh, am I talking about my parents again? silly me.

I'm an only child. I have spent much more time in a solitary state than someone who grew up with siblings. For me, having large amounts of time alone is not only comfortable, but necessary. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a hermit, but I need lots of time for my thoughts. I have too many thoughts and they require me to spend quality time with them or ... well... let's just say they get cranky and throw tantrums.

At Christmas my friend Gary gave me a gift of the first season of THAT GIRL on DVD. Bliss? Oh yeah. This show imprinted on me as a very small child, we're talking maybe 7-8 years old, because it was exactly the life I wanted when I 'grew up'.

For the uninitiated the premise is this: young woman, an only child, moves to New York to become an actress. She lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment, she has a delightful boyfriend who is considerate and lets her be exactly who she is - and loves her for it. Her parents are caring and concerned and actually love her. She is happy, happy, happy all the time. Weekly adventures ensue.

Watching the episodes, which I hadn't seen in decades, I realized just how much I really was influenced by this show. It was a little freaky. When Ann Marie's mother moved in with her, Gary, who was watching with me, said: "Well, you got that part!"

Yeah. I did. Of course, Ann's mother moved back home at the end of the episode - my mother stayed for years. The two of us in a one-bedroom apartment. Again I must ask: however is it possible I came so close to suicide? Sorry to be flip, it's my way.

But I got the most important part of my That Girl dream over 15 years ago when I signed the lease on my apartment - yes, a one bedroom in New York. (And I discovered, while watching the dvds, that I actually live only a few streets away from Ann Marie's first apartment - it's like I was PROGRAMMED!)

The dream of living alone was strong with me from the time I was very young. Either I wanted a large happy family with lots of brothers and sisters, or I wanted to be alone. Option one was a fantasy. Option two I could do.

I had a roommate once - disaster. Never again.

I love living alone. I love the peace.

It has taken me years of living alone to fully realize that I am safe.

It has taken almost half my life to relax and accept the fact that I am in a safe place.

Maybe I'm slow. Or maybe it proves how impactful the events of our childhoods really are.

I grew up in mayhem. Every weekend was a tension-filled horror show - never knowing what fresh hell was coming with my father on a drunken tear. Only on the weekends mind you, clearly he was not an alcoholic because he limited the terror to the weekends. Uh. Yeah, right.

During the week hell was up for grabs and usually my mom took the dare. Atta girl!

She drank on the sly so you never really knew what might come up. She was more the fall-down, hurt-herself type of drunk. Which, while still horrific to a kid, at least wasn't as terrifying as ol' dad rampaging through the house with murder on the brain.

My first thought when I went away to college, away from Hell House, was: oh god, is this what it feels like to be safe?

It has taken another 20 years for it to sink in. But for some reason the past couple of weeks have been making me really feel that 'safe' I longed for as a child. I'm not sure why, and maybe I don't need to know, I'm just curious.

Sometimes I lay in bed and simply relish the fact that there will be no one screaming, no one running and being chased through the house, no need to sleep with a giant kitchen knife under my pillow to defend my mother from my father. The relief of knowing it is safe to go to sleep, that I do not have to lay awake listening for the sounds of a brewing argument that will turn into god knows what kind of free-for-all in the middle of the night, is almost enough to make me feel like I am, at last, That Girl.

Alone in the city I love -- safe. And I am happy, happy, happy all the time. Adventures ensue.