I have always loved packing. There’s something exciting about the containment of objects in your life; their removal from one place, and arrival at another. It has both the feeling of the alien and the inevitable about it. Every item has an origin, is a memory, represents a choice you made somewhere.
At some point soon I’ll have to think about packing in readiness to move in with my boy. It’s a big thing, not least because I have a lot of junk to somehow box up. I have been fiercely protective of my space and independence since I last lived with a partner three years ago. Between 22 and 30 I lived with two very strong men while mourning another, my father. If I could relive my twenties there’s a lot I would do differently, but I suppose that is what your twenties are for. Mistakes and waste. Your thirties: learning, and growth.
Living in my own space for the first time after over a decade of anxiety and unhappiness has been the best thing I’ve done as a woman. I cleared my soul of a lot of things. I got stronger. I began to understand who I am, what I want, and to assert what I don’t want – and won’t allow – in my life anymore.
So to decide to move in with someone again is a big thing. The fact I have chosen to do it at all is a toast to the character of the wonderful man I am with. I have been a skittish creature, and hurt some nice men whose only fault was to try to be a part of my life.
But I never knew you could be just as strong and free with someone as you are alone.
In pondering packing up all these totems of time, I am sort of revisiting all the lessons I learned while living as a single woman. Remembering moments where I stopped in the middle of something, apropos of nothing, and thought “Holy fuck – what the hell were you doing all that time, you idiot?” Sweary epiphanies while doing housework mostly. Small moments of revelation that outwardly would seem like I was just washing a spoon but inside I was reforming.
When you come to live with someone after feeling such freedom you can’t help but feel a little trepidatious. It’s healthy to feel this alongside your excitement though. That feeling is a confirmation that you’ve been thinking good things; been being the right person, observing life and its lessons unhampered by others and whatever self-assuredness they might inflict on you. That you are a person who can stand alone and still be happy. The clarity doesn’t have to stop. That is the lesson to take into your new life. None of that has to stop, ever again.
I suppose humans are meant to live together for reasons of biology. We wouldn’t last long as a race if we gave in to hermitage. But everyone should live alone at least once in their young lives. No one should do it for the first time when they are old. You need to know the sound of true quiet, feel the flexing of echoes in your own skin. You need to know how to be resourceful and content in your own company. You never know when, or for how long you might need to do it again.
Sometimes there’s defiance and independence. But sometimes there’s giving in to the loving voice from the next room, asking if you want tea.