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 When I moved to St. Louis in May 1998, I had only one request for my new apartment: It had to be only mine. I didnít care where it was, or how nice it was, or if it would be an impressive place to potentially bring girls. After a year in Los Angeles, which shook me to my very core, I just wanted to be alone for a while.

Iíll never forget when my mother and I moved me in. We threw a bunch of furniture and books and CDs in the back of my dadís pick-up truck, and I carted it all in while she made sure everything was clean. Everything was sitting in boxes or scattered aimlessly about, and she was going to drive the two hours back to Mattoon while I designed and constructed a comfortable apartment of my own. Mom knew how hard the last year had been, and how this was a chance for me to break out, carve out a new life for myself, on my own terms.

And, strangely, when I hugged her goodbye, she started crying. I asked her what was wrong.

ďOh, Will ... Iím so envious of you,Ē she said. ďIíve never lived by myself. I never got the chance. Youíre so lucky.Ē

She was right. For a year and a half, I had a relatively well-sized apartment all to myself, and I loved it. I never had to share the bathroom, I never worried about leaving my socks around, I never had to worry about annoying my roommates by making a lot of noise when a woman came over (after she left, alas, I was free to masturbate as loudly as I pleased). Anytime I had the opportunity, I would host as many friends as my place could hold, and then they would go home at the end of the night, and I could just crawl into bed and clean up whenever I felt like it. When I learned I was moving to New York, I worried not as much about the expense and chaos and stress of life in New York as I was the adjustment to life with a roommate again. I had grown that accustomed to it.

Well, in the two-plus years since I moved here, Iíve lived in five different apartments, with seven different people, in five different neighborhoods and two different boroughs. Iíve spent one year in Greenwich Village, a month in Brooklyn, a month in SoHo, five months on the Upper East Side, and about six months now in Inwood, a little area that might be considered the Upper Upper Upper Upper Upper West Side. The west side of Manhattan has that little lip that extends nearly up to Canada. Iím at the very top of that. Put it this way: If Manhattan ever sinks into the ocean, Iíll be the first one to go. I have two wonderful roommates who have lived together since college and happily welcomed the quiet dork who just sits in his room and types all the time, mostly, Iíd guess, because they like his cat so much.

We have a nice arrangement. They tend to stay at home during the week, like me. And they watch a lot of television, which I donít. Even if I wanted to, theyíve got the TV room booked. This is perfect for me because it forces me to stay in my room and work, which, truth be told, I likely wouldnít do if I had easy television access. I mean, shit, thereís good shit on, like Battlebots and The View. Iím very fond of my roommates, but like all perfect roommates, we all do our own thing and nobody takes it as a personal insult if I ever come home, shut the door, turn on Dylan and tap tap tap away all evening without having to ask or answer questions about the workday.

Anyway, they left for vacation to Ireland together last week. I will confess, when they told me this, I was most excited. Since we live in Nova Scotia, weíre able to live in a relatively large apartment for a reasonably low price, and two weeks alone in the place seemed like my own little vacation. I mean, Iíd have the run of the place. No one would be able to stop me. Run around naked, sleep on the couch, watch college basketball all hours of the night ... itís my own schedule, just like the old days. I was sad to see them go, but being all by myself, well, Iím an old pro at that.

They left Thursday afternoon. Typically, I write these columns Thursday nights. I came home from work, fixed a drink, recorded Friends for them as previously requested (hell, I even edited out all the commercials), and sat down to write.

And I sat. And I sat. Then I got up. Isnít there a Georgetown game tonight? NBAís on TNT on Thursdays, isnít it? Flip through the channels for half-an-hour. Call a friend. Not home. Pace, drink, pace, pace, drink, drink. Call another friend. Not home. Dammit. Isnít ANYBODY home?

It occurred to me: I am completely alone.

I donít think Iím the type of guy who likes being alone anymore. Last Tuesday, I saw a woman of whom I am almost immeasurably agog over. Sheís the type of person itís darned near impossible not to just fawn over. And we had a wonderful time together, and she told me how much fun she was having, and how she couldnít wait to see me again, and it was great and great and great and great. I felt good. I felt vital. We liked each other. For the next two days, like George Brett said about what life was like after you won a baseball game, all my food tasted better, the sun shined brighter, the workday seemed almost enjoyable.

But in this dark apartment, no one around, just me ... I started thinking that this woman hated me, that sheís probably out right now, finding some guy she likes more than me, dammit Iím fat, my boss hates me, I think Iíve forgotten how to write. I ended up never finishing my column, making up a lame excuse to my editor about it, leaving her two embarrassing phone messages, sending emails to three ex-girlfriends, and generally frittering about aimlessly, chattering to myself. The night finished with me drinking Scotch in my underwear at 2:30, watching What Women Want on HBO. For whatever reason, I needed someoneís presence in the next room. Nobody likes being alone. Not even temporarily, sometimes.

This column is all over the place, doesnít go anywhere, and is very short. Please forgive me. Iím still all alone in here. Itís very difficult to concentrate. If my roommates happen to be checking their email in Ireland and, by chance, read this ... come home, guys. I miss you. But lemme clean a little bit first. Iíve been making a bit of a mess.



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