My mother was my first country, the first place I ever lived– Nayyirah Waheed.
I like to think the flip side of this quote is, the second country you discover and eventually inhabit is yourself. As we step outside of our mothers’ womb, we go on a journey of self-discovery, understanding the many crevices that make up who we are and fill them up with what we hope to become.
The other day I fell, missed a step on a ladder and fell smack dab into my Noguchi coffee table and I guess my ass broke the table as the base collapsed and sent everything flying. Water spilled, sweets rolled, books flew but nothing was broken besides the wooden base. Not even the glassware on the table.
This was not my first fall, matter of fact I am a master faller. If there ever was a PHD for falling, I would most likely get it because I fall in any space, on flat surface, on the bed, on the couch… Living at home, I was the only person who fell up and down the stairs and I have an irrational fear of going down spiral staircases so much so, I try to avoid spiral stair cases where necessary.
It’s a weird one.
This fall however, was a bad fall, though I was not broken, my ass bruised, it was especially bad because it left me shaken afterwards to the point of being unsure of my reflexes and cognitive reaction as if where I was, this home I had lived in for over a year was suddenly foreign to me. I sat down on the floor, not bothering to clean things up, turned on the TV and watched Black Panther back to back for six hours. It was the day after Chadwick Boseman died and I guess I needed to fill the next moments with something good and comforting.
This fall reiterated the fact that I live alone; not that I was unaware of it, but nothing reminds you of your physical state of being than when something happens and you want someone there to witness it, if only to witness it. If there was someone else in the house maybe they would have caught me and broken the fall or would have fussed over me afterwards. I doubt that I would actually let them because I am that stubborn person, but they would have been there. Therefore, because there was no one there I was left contemplating this perpetual state of being that is my present solitude.
There is a stigma attached to living alone, especially as a woman, unmarried, without children and of a particular age. It calls into question all the things that we are conditioned to believe about being alone with only you to rely on.
One of the most intricate encounters of life is the relationship we have with ourselves, an acceptance of oneself especially in those alone moments, without feeling empty. It is making peace with your being and being in touch with your soul, on a plain and not all together altruistic level because there is no extraordinariness to it, yet in its commonness we gain something much more. Nothing has highlighted this more than the events of the past few months; the Corona Virus, when we were banished back inside like our parents would do to us as children, sending us to our rooms when we were naughty as a way of punishment to deny us of whatever pleasures lay outside of it. And so, we have been forced with a self-reckoning.
Being at home in oneself creates a unique sort of freedom that comes with, and over, time, akin to finetuning the body from within, ever so gently every day. It is a reminder to be gentle with ourselves and to enhance self-awareness that cannot be gotten or would have been interrupted by the interactions outside of our homes. It brings perspective.
Being at peace with this solitude is an innate love affair; its messy and unusual, revealing and punishing all at once and it is a struggle and joy to live with every day. The intricacies of my solitude was not lost on me with this fall, I was too quickly reconditioned to understanding that a setback and the manifestation of its aftermath are completely dependent on myself. I was angry because it interrupted the flow of things and set my day back by hours, I wanted to smash something, many things and I wanted to curse someone out but the only person around to curse out was myself and the only thing I could smash was my step ladder which would only further hamper tomorrow because I would still need it to climb, to actually revisit the thing I was doing before I was rudely interrupted by my clumsiness. I would have also had a terse conversation, more like screaming match, with God about why me, and what sin had I committed that was so grave it warranted almost dying, I already almost died once so what could I possibly have done wrong now. Really, I would have, but I didn’t; not outwardly anyway because I am sure somewhere inside I rolled my eyes and said “really God? Really?’. These realisations floored me so I did the only thing I could; I stayed still and allowed myself to feel whatever emotion I was feeling and let it run its cause. Ugh!
We are allowed to be shaken as I was, because another inch and I would have sliced my head open or broken a bone and considering I never want to go back into hospital again, that would have been a bit of a bummer.
We are allowed to pause and take a deep breath, maybe even several steps back.
We are allowed to be angry about it.
We are allowed to stop a while.
But we are not allowed to stay down there, we eventually have to get up and keep it moving, we simply must. Which is eventually what I did some eight hours or so later. I went to bed and had a good nights’ sleep.