4 511 E Roy St

Ajita Shukla

Apartment interior with table, bookcase, and TV.

It’s a Saturday evening. I sit on the couch of my current home, that I live in with my partner, thinking about my memoir class. “What can I write about? What is it in my life that’s so definitive of me as a human being — a time of my life that I keep going back to — that is worthy of being written about? I’m just a 20-something who hasn’t experienced life fully yet,” my inner monologue questions.

Going into a rabbit hole, I start thinking about my time at 511 E Roy St. 511 E Roy St. shaped so much of my living experiences, and how I look at life, that it is worthy of being written about.

511 E Roy St, Apt 402, was the first apartment I ever moved into, alone! Being an Indian woman, ‘living alone’ is a monster that everyone warns you about. “You can’t live alone!” “How will you survive alone?” “What if you get lonely?” — my mother’s voice kept echoing in my head, as I moved into this apartment in July 2021, and faced this monster head-on, seeing what it had to offer.

And boy did it offer!

Having grown up in a collectivist society, living alone was a strange concept for me. I never knew what sitting in uncomfortable silence with myself could look like. I never knew what introspecting alone could look like. I never knew what going deep in the crevices of my unhealed trauma and embracing myself could look like. And while learning these things, I learned how to start enjoying my own company.

I learned how to let myself just . . . exist without anyone questioning who I was. I learned to just be “Ajita” instead of being someone’s daughter or someone’s girlfriend or someone’s roommate.

I learned the concept of boundaries — how to invite people into my life selectively, and only when I want to. I spent many evenings decorating my apartment the way I wanted to. I spent many nights sipping on my glass of wine, ruminating about life.

That experience of living alone for 12 months in 511 E Roy St, Apt 402, was so life-changing for me as a human being, it’s one of the most defining phases of my life. It was when I discovered my personal style. It was when I realized how I like to cook. It was when I discovered the joy of taking walks and dancing alone.

It was a phase that was so joyous and uniquely nostalgic, that it keeps making me want to go back and live that life again. Now I understand why my mom warned me against it – once you start enjoying living alone, no one can make you happier than your own self. And that’s not something that the world wants young women to experience.

Media Attributions


CE Student Voices--the Best of Short Memoir Spring 2023 Copyright © 2023 by Ajita Shukla. All Rights Reserved.

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