I love living by myself to a degree that probably isn’t acceptable by societal standards and causes me to fall closer to the recluse or hermit end of the spectrum than it does social butterfly any day of the week. Don’t get me wrong, once I’m out in public and on a roll, I run my mouth to a point where people must grow concerned about my wellbeing and ability to get enough oxygen between sentences. I enjoy a good chat with both people I know and complete strangers. Which is good, because if I didn’t possess that trait I’d be a full-scale recluse, and no one would hear from me again.
I love everything about living alone, from drinking wine from a bottle in my living room because I can’t be bothered to dirty a glass to peeing with the door open. I don’t have to worry about waking anyone up at 1am. I don’t even have to put on pants if I don’t want to. Perhaps these are all signs I’ve just let myself go more than I normally would have, but it isn’t at a point where it bothers me. When I don’t put on pants for company, that’s when I will have a bigger problem.
For me, the problem with being alone is that there come times when I would have utilized a roommate and am, in fact, stuck to solve some problem myself. For instance I hate bugs, so not having the person to call to come kill a spider was not a fun situation for me the first time, but I bought a fly swatter specifically so I could dominate any bug that crossed my path. Or at 1am when I couldn’t get my soap refill opened so had to take to stabbing it open with a knife rather than twisting the top after a night of insomnia. It’s the little things, but I’ve found I just have to become more innovative.
I have a friend here who I make sure gets a hold of me every few days in case I choke on my dinner or slip and fall in the tub, as my risk of dying in a freak accident and going undiscovered until a neighbor complains about the smell of my dead body is obviously staggeringly higher than it used to be. That said, I am willing to take the risk as a trade-off to the sheer enjoyment I get out of being alone.
I recently started composting, a concept I had no clue about until I moved to Seattle. I was hesitant at first, but got a flyer in the mail from my garbage company that was clearly aimed at oblivious people like myself, explaining with pictures what goes into trash, recycling, and compost. And it isn’t just in my home that it’s a concern. Even in restaurants they separate out compost and recycling. Which is wonderful in theory, but pissed me off the first month because I felt like the town fool reading through the bins for minutes at a time, trying to make a concerted effort not to upset the general public by throwing a plastic fork in the wrong bin. I heard the murmurs behind my back pegging me as an out-of-towner.
So when I decided to compost in my own home due to my new flyer that would now help me separate out my trash, it was a big decision. Did I really want three types of trash cans in my apartment, even though it isn’t aesthetically pleasing? Did I want to hassle with buying a special compostable garbage bag? But most importantly, did I have a solution to deal with the smell of rotting food? No one wants to hang out at the smelly girl’s house, and after seeing those commercials about being “nose blind” to smells, I had visions of people walking into my house and stopping dead in their tracks because of a smell I had grown used to living with. Also, it would make it harder for my neighbors to promptly report the smell of my corpse if my house naturally smelled like rotting food in the first place.
I decided that I would go small with my compost trash can and take it out frequently. I’m a germaphobe, so Clorox, Lysol, and Febreze are my cleaning trifecta regardless of what I’m doing. I figured I had a good plan, so I purchased a cute little lidded stainless steel trash can that matched the clock in my kitchen and patted myself on the back for making an attempt at doing the right thing. What I didn’t expect were the fruit flies.
Nasty little bugs that don’t really serve a purpose except to annoy the living hell out of you. It was unacceptable and became my new obsession. I met a friend for lunch the next day and was quick to bring up the topic bearing down on my reclusive life. She suggested vinegar and dish soap in a little bowl, and I couldn’t get home fast enough to test it out.
I poured vinegar into a bowl with dish soap and waited. They flocked to it, but didn’t seem to be going in to drown as I had planned. It was as if they were watching me, knowing that I had done something different. The smell of vinegar seeped through my house, and I was now more concerned about that and wondered why in God’s name I even started composting in the first place. I lit candles and sprayed Febreze but nothing would help while the bowl was still full, waiting for the flies.
I obsessed over it. I kept going back every 30 minutes to see what would happen. I decided I’d give it one night, go to bed, and then clean my apartment top to bottom if it didn’t work. I finally caught a little bit of sleep despite my vinegar-smell induced rage. I woke up the next day with the excitement of a kid on Christmas, hopped out of my bed, and marched straight into the kitchen. It was a fly massacre. I proudly dumped my bowl of poison and fly carcasses. Then I sprayed for the smell, trying to get my apartment back to normal.
I went out later that night and after a day of solely trying to kill fruit flies, I was glad to have some company. When people asked me what I was up to, I wanted to tell them my all-consuming tale of hunting flies in my apartment, but I decided against it. Besides I was convinced I kept getting random whiffs of apple cider vinegar. Whether it was in my head or not, I was already on the brink of looking like a crazy recluse, so I just shrugged, shrouded in mystery, leaving them to speculate what I do in my spare time, as clearly, a 48 hour obsession with compost and fruit flies would not likely be their first guess.