What I Do When You’re Away


I sleep with the lights on, all of them. It’s not because I miss you; it’s for safety. You probably don’t know this, but you can’t get burglarized with the light on. The best defense is a good offense, so I attack the threat of home invasion by turning on every single light in our apartment — except for your desk lamp which I can’t figure out how to turn on. It’s really only ever on when you’re using your desk, anyway.

However, all the other lights will be on, and that includes the blue one glowing from my television screen. It’s not because I miss you; it’s my terrible upbringing. I was raised in a family where people woke up in the middle of the night to reset their television sleep timer. Walking through my childhood home at 2 a.m. it’d look like a sudden carbon monoxide leak had occurred: people sleeping on floors, couches, in chairs, and the rare bed, with lights and TV ablaze. To this day, you could wake up more members of my family by turning a television off than by turning one on.

I eat dinner very early when you’re away. I mean super early, like I’m vying with the elderly for the prize of being mocked by hack comedians. I meet friends for meals too, but if I happen to be eating alone it will be early. Also, I talk to the dog a lot. It’s not because I miss you; it’s because we get along great and the dog makes some pretty erudite points for someone who’s illiterate.

This sounds depressing, but it’s not. I truly enjoy my “me” time, which has the added benefit of giving me an excuse to use the phrase “me” time. I don’t sit and wait for you like furniture and you’d never ask me to do it. Although if I had to do it I’d be the armchair because it has the best location, but that’s just my New York sensibility. I go forward and have adventures. It’s not because I miss you; it’s just what we both do, part of being alive. Also, it’s fun to think that when I will meet you in the future I’ll be slightly changed, because that is the closest I’m going to get to being Marty McFly.

When you’re away I still go out, but not too much. You’re not my mom and this isn’t my Whisky rebellion (unless you count my overindulgence in Alexander Hamilton trivia). You’re not a cat and I’m not a group of mice. I don’t have to wait for you to be away to play; in fact, you usually encourage it. Although I do eat a lot of pizza, being home alone just doesn’t ignite my inner Kevin McAllister. At the most I’ll have an extra drink, or maybe stay out slightly later. It’s not because I miss you; it’s just a lot of people have birthdays this month.

Sometimes when you’re away, I forget to lock the deadbolt and I think about how pissed you’ll be if we get robbed. Rightfully so, forgetting to do that is pretty careless.  Especially considering our current Ross-and-Rachel-relationship with renter’s insurance, do we have it? Don’t we? I think I online chatted with a guy from All State, but I don’t remember signing anything. Did you? Does the fact that I can do a really good impression of Dean Winters as “Mayhem” mean anything?

The next time I leave the apartment, I’ll throw on a few more lights. That will cover us just in case we don’t actually have the renter’s insurance and I forget the lock again.  Also, it’s really nice to come home to that warm glow of the lit apartment. Another thing is, if you happen to get back while I’m out, you’ll be able to see our place from the street, you know, in case you forget what it looks like while you’re away.

Plus, it’d be good to have that light spill out onto the sidewalk too, because they still haven’t fixed the broken bulb over the stoop. They are being really irresponsible about it at this point. If Oprah’s self-defense episodes and Lifetime movies taught me anything, it’s that getting out your keys in the dark is a death wish. Unfortunately, as you know, our building is owned by some kind of nameless ghost. I don’t have the number to his nowhereabouts, which is why nothing ever can be fixed, including stoop bulbs. So yeah, the next time I leave the apartment, I’ll throw on a few more lights — except for your desk lamp, which I can’t figure out how to turn on. It’s really only ever on when you’re using your desk anyway.  So it makes sense that I can’t figure out how to turn it on; it’s not because it’s overly complicated.

It’s because I miss you.

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