A Woman Who Lives Alone


When you live alone, there’s less need to cover up the weird secrets of your life, to hide the things you do when no one else is around. Before you have company, it’s easy just to toss the laundry in the closet and wipe yourself off the bathroom sink and kitchen counters. But when you’re alone, you can spread yourself out all over the place.

And so I do. The bathroom trash is a garden of Kleenex roses blotted with lipstick. The shelves sag under the weight of books. I spilled champagne all over the floor and missed a few spots while cleaning it up, so the stickiness under my feet sometimes takes me by surprise.

My space is mine – and his, because he takes up a sliver of space in my huge bed three or four nights a week – and it is perfect. It’s funny how quickly your residence becomes You – even the salt shakers and mugs in the cupboard are parts of your existence, and they’ll be there sitting silently even when you’re gone. Things are just things, of course, but they carry a heavy weight. Their value is in their usefulness, or in their sentimental nature. They create your world as you reach for them and admire them, and sit to collect a fine film of dust when you’re not there.

I’ve always liked moving in to new apartments, and the cleaning required when you leave the old one. The idea of erasing myself and all the events that happened when I lived within the walls is something I like to mull over. You wipe away all traces of yourself, remove your DNA from the sink with a washrag and bleach, take your garbage and your dust and the strands of your hair with you when you go. You throw or donate the possessions you have no need for in your new residence, and you drive around buying new things.

I make calm, simple purchases: an ice cube tray, a stack of perfect white washcloths tied with a bow. I want white, white sheets, white towels, white rugs, but I know that soon that perfect pure color will be stained with dirt and makeup smudges and the rosy flush our bodies smear across the sheets after we fuck. There are telltale stains where we sleep, markings in the material. They wash away in the laundry – but where do they go?

And even though I am so happy, so content, I sometimes catch myself wishing for bad things. I am waking up and stopping myself from doing the terrible things I want to do, even though I know they’d leave no trace. I want to do bad, and that’s something I still cannot erase.

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