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.