LIVING SINGLE IN NYC
|Does your SSB include red wine?—by Thomas Heylan via Flickr|
You’re single. You live alone by choice. You love the freedom and the ability to listen to those voices in your head when your kitchen cabinets need purging at 2 a.m., or to ignore the voices and keep sleeping instead. You like doing Yoga in your living room at 5 a.m. – in the nude. You have an SSB and no one knows about it, except that one single guy across the alley, who happened to be awake when your downward facing dog just happened to be facing him. Oops! You forgot to close your curtains.
Whether you inhabit a tiny studio apartment with a finicky feline in New York’s East Village, or a sprawling townhouse floor-through with a killer closet in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, you probably have a “thing” that you do when no one is looking. And if you’re married, you probably “had” a quirky thing at some point during your life before you met your mate – also known as your “Secret Single Behavior.”
Even though flying solo can be both lonely and liberating depending on which day it is, (no one to answer to, look good for, or put up with) and may even sound like heaven at times, what if even your most capable secrets are predictable, dull and boring? What if those private moments between you and your four walls are just not as exciting as they once were? If you’re able to admit them, you’d probably be surprised when those fabled idiosyncrasies (they seemed oh so exciting in 2005) are no longer the cat’s meow. What’s changed?
I spent a weekend alone recently, which rarely happens. I thought that I’d take advantage of it and attempt to relive a night of guilty single pleasures. I planned this and was ultra excited about an evening by myself in my New York apartment, since I hadn’t practiced any SSBs in years.
I admit, when I didn’t have a date on a Saturday night, I’d cook a pasta dinner, drink a bottle of red wine, and move furniture around in my apartment while listening to Dinah Washington. (I know it’s weird, but I loved it.) Needless to say, I got very good at arranging furniture. For a period of time, I did this every week. I always said that interior design school taught me nothing about furniture placement.
I’d move the furniture from the bedroom into the living room and vice versa. Sometimes I came up with a brand new floor plan, and other times, well, I just moved it back the next day after the wine haze had lifted, hoping that I didn’t scratch my oak floors in the process. Eventually, I began faux painting (big mistake), and eventually making my own window treatments. And, I don’t sew. Use your imagination, but the debacle usually involved Elmer’s glue.
I attempted an abbreviated version of this during my weekend alone –– moving small items like tables and accessories from room to room, after I had indulged in a perfectly cooked plate of spaghetti al dente and a bottle of California Merlot. (It’s taken me all these years to figure out how to not overcook the pasta.)
What was once a time of exploration and discovery (of as many ways to possibly outfit a shotgun apartment with the exact same hand-me-down furnishings each time but in a different floor plan layout), was now an evening of merely tightening things up and adding a few finishing touches.
I quickly realized that my furniture planning skills were now so advanced that I couldn’t create another floor plan if I wanted to. Obviously, I had already created the best solution. Either that, or my apartment’s layout allowed only the existing, and my pasta-wine-decorating fantasy was just that –– a fantasy. I realized that my SSB was now dated and I needed a new one. (I am trying to figure this out.)
I am not alone, am I? All women have their guilty pleasures –– those things they do that no one knows anything about, and the things they are embarrassed to share and avoid talking about, even with their closest girlfriends.
Carrie Bradshaw liked to stack saltines and eat them with grape jelly in her kitchen while reading Vogue. She could’ve just as easily sat down to take in the latest trends, but standing was part of her process. My question is, “Where was the peanut butter?”
I have a friend who’s only been married for one year, but she’s lived with a significant other for more than three years. She thought back to the time before her husband arrived. She remembered painting her face in bold, unmatched, strange colors, while smoking cigarettes alone in her apartment.
A single twenty-something friend, likes to enjoy the Mary Jane while frantically scrubbing her Hell’s Kitchen bathroom on her hands and knees with a toothbrush. (So much for the thought that marijuana increases the appetite for food.)
A forty-something friend, still single, admits to her addiction to shows like Dateline. She watches it while sipping Patron with fresh lime juice, no rocks.
Still another forty-something friend who’s now married, recalls drinking chardonnay and eating gravlax straight from the package for dinner while sitting on the floor of her Upper West Side apartment. Her wine choice was Edna Valley Chardonnay, which she was drawn to because her grandmother’s name was Edna.
Self-indulgence goes a long way when dates are scarce on a Saturday night. But what once seemed indulgent may no longer live up to the hype – you might have let the cat out of the bag on your SSB or gotten caught. Or maybe you’ve practiced it too well and for far too long.
If you’re more mature and married now, you may have discovered that scrubbing the bathroom is far from a Secret Single Behavior and has become a Sunday morning ritual.
An activity that once made you relax and feel happy could now be one that you dread or even hire someone to do.
Or you’re breaking up with gravlax –– you ate so much of it during those six months of singlehood that you actually gag at the thought of another bite, and you now prefer Sauvignon blanc with Ahi Tuna.
|–by Anders Adermark via Flickr|
For me, furniture moving is less likely (until I get a new apartment), since every piece is strategically planned and there’s little room for reinvention. I’ll keep searching from my new quirky “thing” but whatever my future SSB is, I can assure you –– it will most definitely involve red wine.