Prior to now, I’ve only ever lived alone once — and even then, it was just for six weeks while studying abroad at Oxford University. I was only 21, and it was the strangest thing to walk to the grocery store and purchase some Coco Pops (Britain’s monkey-adorned version of Cocoa Krispies) among other nutritious items, and then walk back to my very own dorm to restock my mini-fridge, not having to worry about marking said goods as mine because nobody else inhabited my adorable, slanted ceiling dwelling but me and me alone.
In these ensuing years since Oxford, I have always lived with other humans and have had to mark my cereal and milk and all other groceries, lest they be snatched away by desperately hungry roommates. These living situations have oscillated from good to GREAT, and it was generally a comfort to come home to other people after a long day of tutoring or solitary writing at coffee shops.
But now everything I’ve ever known about living somewhere has changed with my recent move to Asheville.
I have my own place now, and at long last I need not mark my food. I can leave dishes stacked in the sink for days, and nobody will yell at me to get on that. I can spill juice on the floor and not bother cleaning up the puddle. I can never make my bed, and the world will keep on spinning.
Okay, so, I’m an extremely neat and orderly person, so I never commit any of those heinous crimes anyway. Except for the whole bed-making thing. Like, why bother? Why are we to do this again? Are our bedrooms on perpetual live-feeds to galas all over the world? I digress.
So far, coming home to an empty place hasn’t left me too down. Training for my new job has kept me busy throughout the week, so the peace and quiet of my own four walls have been quite nice, actually. Weekends away from work can be tough, though I’ve been keeping busy with my organization and some arts & crafts projects.
Also, I’ve had some guests come over these last couple weekends, and this is perhaps the greatest perk of living alone. I don’t have to check with anyone to see if it’s okay that some stranger I met in Chicago is coming to visit me this weekend (which indeed he is). Instead, I can put a vacancy sign on my front door and let in the masses, be it via Couchsurfing or otherwise.
I hosted my very first Couchsurfer a couple weekends ago, and a close friend visited me the following weekend. An old camp friend stopped by as well, and I’m finally finding something at least somewhat redeeming about this transition from an epic life on the road to a strange new landscape of stability.
I can now stand on the indoor-end of that knock, knock, knock as a guy who always stood on the outside throughout my road trip — if not my entire life.
I’m not exactly used to having people over. And by “not exactly used to,” I mean to say it’s hardly ever happened. I never hosted anyone or anything as a kid.
I never hosted a birthday party for friends.
I never hosted a slumber party with the other boys.
I never hosted a pool party, despite the conveniently located in-ground pool at my parents’ house.
After all, who would ever want to come over my house? Why would anyone want to visit me?
I’m still insecure about this whole hosting business, having people over, talking and eating and doing stuff, if I’m honest. Twenty-something years of solitary residue is hard to wash off.
Having hosted a couple people this month, though, I’m starting to get the hang of it, even see the joy in it. I like making the guest bed (the only kind of bed that makes sense to make). I like setting a towel and washcloth on the mattress. I even like fixing breakfast for more than just myself (but not dinner…unless it’s breakfast-for-dinner).
My heart races on this other end of the knock, knock, knock. Oh the emerging possibilities as soon as the door swings open . . .
For as long as I’m stable with my own place, I want to give back because of what so many — so many of you reading — gave me for 26,000 miles across this continent. Whether we crossed paths on #RunningTo or not, I’d love for you to come visit me in Asheville.
Yes, you, dear reader, old friend, fellow wanderer: come visit. Shoot me a message, and for real, let’s make it happen. I’d be honored to have you.
I just built a day-bed in the living room, and it’s already made and waiting for you.