It's been six weeks. Six weeks of hanging pictures, stocking the cupboards, painting (just one wall, a carefully deliberated blue) – all in an attempt to make my first solo apartment feel like home.
After drawn-out periods living with squished closet space and, most recently, sleeping in a twin bed, the thing that has taken me aback about my new apartment is the amount of space I now call my own. Thanks to renting in a building that went up in the 1930s – there's something to that “things were made better back then” argument – I have five closets (pack rat alert!) and a bedroom that fits a queen bed with lots of room left to spare. I've caught myself standing in my entranceway marvelling at the not-narrow hallway and forgetting where I put things because – well, there are just so many places to put things.
Shortly before moving in, I talked to a friend who has lived alone for two years about what it's like. She said she questioned it at first and wondered if it was extravagant given that, at that point in her life, everyone she knew had a roommate. But she quickly realized it was the right decision – and says most of her friends have now embraced the apartment-for-one lifestyle. “Trust me – you'll never want to live with anyone again.”
I'm starting to think she's right. Along with the increase in square footage, I've gotten used to quiet, methodical dinner-making at the end of a long workday and the company of podcasts. Then there's the satisfaction of figuring things out for myself. I consider myself an independent person, but in the past, I had a roommate to teach me how to cook a whole chicken or a boyfriend to help me hang shelves. In contrast, being on my own has pushed me into forced learning, something I discovered a couple of Sundays ago when assembling two Ikea kitchen trolleys. I made a couple of wrong hardware choices and frequently cursed the instructions. But that's what I liked about it. There was no one rushing me along, no one telling me I was putting a piece in the wrong place. It was about trusting myself and being okay with screwing up, something I presume makes all types of solo endeavours – from starting a business to eating alone at a restaurant – scary but liberating.
Oddly enough, the thing that made me realize just how okay I was with my new living situation was a bad dream I had a couple of weeks ago. Strangers started coming into my apartment and telling me they lived there, too. They put their stuff everywhere and filled the fridge with bags of milk. And I couldn't get them to leave.
I woke up in panic, sweating. But it was still just me – everything in its right place.
This is second in a series of posts about moving into your own apartment. You can find the others here.
Erin Letson is a Toronto-based writer and editor who blogs about digestive health at Fix My Gut (www.fixmygut.com). You can follow her on Twitter @erinletson.