The year before my daughter left the house to attend college I began thinking about all the things I would be doing that I’d been denying myself for quite some time. A friend of mine suggested that I needed an unlisted life.
I longed for a life where no one needed or wanted anything from me and wouldn’t expect anything from me; and wouldn’t be able to reach me if they did, hence unlisted. I was overworked and needed the time to recharge.
Would I stay out late and drink copious amounts of alcohol, have friends over for casual dinner parties? I would certainly have time to catch up on all the reading I’d been meaning to do. I thought a lot about whether or not I would stay in the house we rented or move into something smaller. I decided that I was past the ‘getting a roommate’ stage in my life.
I could actually have something that might resemble a social life too. Like most single mothers, I worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and was often exhausted. The only thing I ever wanted to do when I got home was to take a shower and go to sleep. Not only did I not have time to have a proper social life but I had nothing that could be remotely described as a sex life. I jokingly told a friend that I was gonna make up for lost time by sleeping with everyone.
I moved into a nice but considerably smaller apartment and left behind much of the garage sale furniture I had accumulated over the years at the old apartment. With the exception of buying myself some new furniture I began living frugally so I wouldn’t have to work around the clock like I used to. I had always wanted a luxurious red sofa. I purchased my coveted red sofa online and within a week it was finally mine.
During this time I found a newspaper job, this time as a reporter covering what I wanted to cover and when I wanted to cover it which is almost unheard of within the journalism industry. I did this job while trying to emancipate myself from the restaurant industry (I occasionally moonlighted as a banquet server) once and for all. It felt strange to not work 12-15 hour days; in fact, it still does. My mind and body remember the punishing and seemingly never-ending shifts.
I got rid of my car in order to save more money and since I walk or ride my bike everywhere I’ve lost twenty pounds. I thought I would miss having a car but I really don’t. I smartly went back to school in pursuit of my Bachelor’s degree. I also got a part-time job driving a taxi which is the most interesting job I’ve ever had. I love how my passengers share their lives with me. I also love how I can work as little or as much as I want as a cab driver. I dare say that cab-driving is the quintessential writer’s job.
After years and years of being an overworked single mother and having to be up very early every morning whether I wanted to or not; I now find it difficult to sleep in, so I am usually up at 5am and at work by 6am. I work when I want and then spend my days off doing what I wish: writing, homework, long walks, running errands, reading books and watching films.
Some days I cannot believe that it’s been five years since my daughter left home. Like most women I feel like I should be getting more done, that feeling that I should be reading more even though I read every day and never watch television.
I’ve had quite a few late nights downtown and the free time has been liberating in some regard but I still rarely invite anyone into my bed. I just can’t be the sexual vixen I sometimes wish I could be. It just isn’t me. I have done a considerable amount of reading and writing. I’ve enjoyed many evenings home alone watching all of the Isabelle Huppert movies (my favorite French actress) the public library has to offer.
It’s hard for me to believe that I actually thought I would retire by the age of thirty. I laugh at my hubris. I still imagine myself as an ex-pat living in Paris, maybe Provence, living what I thought to be a worldly if not a reclusive writer’s life. I would have a couple of French lovers, drink the best wine, smoke cigarettes and eat the best food in the world. I would live off the money I made with whatever novels or writing I had already done. And believe me; I haven’t ruled it out.
But as the days pass and the weeks go by, the pages somehow get written and it occurs to me that my life is more and more starting to resemble that unlisted writer’s life I have always envisioned for myself.
Nancy Muldoon lives in upstate New York. She is working on her first novel called Murder At Victoria Pool. You can find her on Instagram at inside_saratoga