The odd thing is, I know I WILL drag myself up to switch that light off, and then downstairs to tidy up. It turns out that I do have some - admittedly very low - standards, and that not leaving the night before's plates and dishes out to greet me in the morning is one of them. Who knew? This whole, living alone for the first time aged 35, thing is an endless voyage of self-discovery. I have found out, for instance, that I don't want to eat in front of the tv, indeed I almost never want to watch tv at all. Or drink wine. Bleugh, wine. If I want a drink, I want spirits. I have learned that I can't sleep if I know the heating is on, or if my bedroom is messy, but that this doesn't extend to the bathroom, which can look like the black hole of Calcutta for all I care, or to all the lights in the house being out. I still want to sleep on the door side of the bed and however often I make a conscious effort to spread across the full 180cm, (reminding myself that I waited 4 months for the privilege), I will wake up curled in a foetal ball milimetres from the edge. I know that most evenings are fine, anything between blissful and bearable, but that Friday and Saturday nights home alone feel utterly wrong and depressing, often to the point of being physically painful. I definitely need a drink on those nights.
None of this domestic ephemera is interesting to anyone but me, and most people have known all this stuff about themselves for so long it barely registers. But I am finding the process of finding out how I like to live aged 35 very intriguing. The last time I lived alone was in a single college room in Oxford, aged 21. I found a photo of it today, actually - a Vuillard poster, a tiny rug, a neatly made bed under a sash window, an enormous pile of books. A bunch of tulips in a cheap vase. I kept it absolutely, obsessively immaculate. Of course, I was very peculiar and mad back then, preparing myself sad little meals of steamed fish and vegetables in my rice cooker, going to bed at 9 most nights, after painstakingly writing out everything I had eaten that day in tiny, immaculate print in a squared notebook to be brought out, proudly, for my appalled therapist.
I think a whole day of meals from that sad little notebook would barely do for my breakfast now. Sometimes in this chaotic, bewildering time, I feel that at 35 I have very little more sense than I did at 21, possibly even less. I have no answers, and the future is shrouded in a sort of haze of barely suppressed panic. But I do know that I eat more, get drunker, stay up later, make more mistakes, create more mess, laugh more that I could possibly have imagined at 21. And I can't help but feel optimistic when I realise that.