The day I picked up the keys and walked into my empty sun-bathed third story apartment, I was amazed by how quiet it was. This cosy and quaint space was mine to fill with furniture and noise to make it a home. On the second day, I filled my car with books and plant pots and cutlery and kitchen utensils. I spent hours, in silence, curating my bookshelf and finding everything a home.
It wasn’t until the third day I realised I had a proclivity to silence. I spent hours on Monday evening constructing furniture in silence, unaware of the time that had passed apart from the fact the sun had fallen out of the sky.
Most days I thrived in the quiet. Whether I was cooking dinner or cleaning or working from home. I developed routines that involved workout videos online, experimenting with recipes on Sundays and walking through the street with the terrace lined houses. I could get up with the sun and sleep when I please. On my 25th birthday, I poured myself a glass of black coffee and sat by the window thinking I should enjoy the quiet, I will probably never be alone again on my birthday.
These moments make me think of the concept in property law called “quiet enjoyment.” Really it means that the landlord cannot do anything which interferes with their tenant’s peace, comfort, and privacy. I think it means much more. It comes down to the ability to enjoy the quiet that you have built for yourself from the rest of the world.
For all the beautiful days of quiet, there were plenty of ominous ones. When I would find a new place to get coffee or a wine bar or see something in the grocery store, I wanted to share it with someone. As time went on, this feeling grew to the everyday.
When I had a big win at work, I wondered who to tell. I realised the stark reality of living alone is that if you do not try, you could go without saying a word from Friday Night to Monday Morning. And even if you think you know, there is a real distinction between being alone and being lonely, and their intersection isn’t straightforward. There’s a reason they say silence is deafening because sometimes I can feel its ache in my toes.
For now, I wouldn’t change a thing. But I hope this feeling of silence won’t be forever. It’s much easier to be alone in a foreign country than in place when the people you love most are only a car-ride away.
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