For an Introvert

Living alone was so hard, in the beginning. I remember getting up to check the lock and give the door a good solid yank, something like 16 times. I remember gulping back tears and thinking you are a grownup and you will be perfectly fine.

I remember deciding, sometime during that night-slash-morning, that it actually might not be perfectly fine. Not with the “new” fridge making enough noise to beat the band. Not with the frenetic scurrying going on over my head. Not with the eviction surely taking place, right outside.

What was I doing, in the middle of Manhattan? Why hadn’t I moved to, I don’t know, Montana? I woke up with a not-enough-sleep hangover and made myself what would be the first of many, many eggs. Budget Breakfast. I say this with affection, now.

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I found weekends harder than weekdays, especially during the winter. It seemed like everyone around me was hunkering down and in it for the long haul. With boyfriends and babies and brunch and bacon. I thought the short haul sounded like a serious challenge, and I hardly ever had any plans. I went to work Monday through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday I went to the laundromat, the grocery store, and the gym.

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It’s been infinitely better, this spring. My fridge is still kicking, I’ve yet to see a thing with a tail (in my apartment, at least), and I like my new neighbor. Also, the sky has lost the gloomy gray that I was beginning to consider standard, and the wind doesn’t whip quite the way it once did. There are trees blooming, and there are daffodils growing — all over the place.

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It’s no longer a horrible struggle — to be happy. It doesn’t feel like quite such a full-time job. Nice days to myself break up the occasional string of lonely days, in which I work from home, paint my toes, caramelize onions, read whole books, and write complete garbage. Other activities include leaving ex-boyfriends alone, cleaning my shower, calling my mom, making a big salad, and savoring snail mail.

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On nice days, there are often friends to meet. Sometimes we bypass the coffee and go straight for the cake. (Two kinds of cake! Gâteau Nuage Cheesecake and Coffee Mousse Cake. Note to self: things with layers > things without layers.)

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It’s always worth it, even when there isn’t cloud cake and coffee ganache involved. Even when it costs more than I thought it would, and I have to make do with dying leftovers for dinner. (You don’t know how badly I want to add something about “calling it a wrap” right here. I’ll spare you…kind of.)

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My friend-date budget is way more important. I honestly don’t know how to properly thank everyone who has ever reached out and asked me to coffee, or invited me over to make dinner, or asked me to picnic in the park, or suggested we go for a run. Or went so far as to offer me their friends/sisters/cousins/therapists/contacts in NYC, on permanent loan.

This doesn’t even account for the people who sent me an encouraging email, or wrote me a letter, or agreed that this city isn’t for everyone, or forwarded me a favorite quote, or passed along a toaster-oven friendly recipe, or mailed me a surprise PACKAGE!, or just said hey, I’m in this too, and I’m so glad you’re here.

Which still doesn’t account for the people who brought me baked goods (their own granola! their own bread! their own muffins!) and started calling me every week, just to check in. Or the people who treated me to a meal (or twenty — I’m looking at you, Viv and Harry!). Or the people who shared their own versions of Failure to Launch and Subsequent False Starts, in addition to job listings they thought would be a better fit for me. Or even the people who just told me where to go to get my hands on a really fabulous cookie.

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You’ve made all of this so much easier on me. And you got me to like coffee. Should I be thanking you for that? I think so.

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It only took me 4 months and 43 friend dates. Not bad, for an introvert.

{Coffee photo by @nickersonross.}

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