Solitude in Orlando

Since I got here, to Orlando, I’ve been living alone in a house that’s a bit too big for me. I realized that this is the first time I’m living truly by myself: in college I always had a roommate and, even when she was not there, I had my friend from the room across the hall, or my friends from the condo. Poland, that was supposed to be the moment when I was going to face reality and adulthood and I was going to discover if I as able to live by myself, in the reality was even easier than Caracas, because I had two great roommates and a lot of friends in Akropol helping me and making me company, so I was rarely alone. Now, that I literally haven’t seen a friend for more than a week –and that was an adult friend- I find this experience very enlightening. It’s curious, because I always thought I was more the just-leave-me-alone kind of person, that if I had the chance, I would prefer to be alone and quiet, so I could read a book or watch a movie… you know, that I could spend days at home just with my company, without the need of going out of seeing anyone else… My… I was wrong! Of course I thought that, if I was always with people and always busy, so the perspective of having time for myself seemed like a gift. But now that I had to live that, that I didn’t have any alternative, I realize how hard it is to be like this. Even harder because I don’t have any friend in this city, so it is not like I was time for myself, is that I don’t have the choice. In Venezuela I was lucky enough to have the kind of friends that make you company in solitude, those friends that can spend a whole afternoon without saying anything, just hanging out, doing each of us our thing but together, those friends that restart a two-days-old conversation as if you talked about that two minutes ago. Having friends like those, that make you a kind of company that is not noisy, I got the feeling that I could totally be ok by myself, but in reality I am more than used to have people around me. Of course, is good to be able to wake up at any time you want, or watch all the TV shows you feel like, or to eat what you want, where you want… there are some great things. But, boy, what would I do just to have a housemate here.

Because living alone is not as glamorous as you would tell from the movies. You don’t drink a couple of wine when you get from work, nor smoke a cigar while you sit under a faint lightening and think about deep issues. No, no, no. You get home and sometime you want to tell someone about your day, and that’s when you start calling people and texting friends. But living alone is neither as sad nor boring as you could think from my previous lines. My family and some friends text me about activities in Orlando or in the condo, worried about my mental health and my social life. Living alone is mostly about routines. Routines are, I think, your best friends here, because they keep you going, and they keep days passing by. The thing is that being alone makes routines into something even more boring that they are –if that’s possible-, because doing the shopping by yourself is – at least for me- an incredibly annoying task, or cooking just for one. So the hardest part for me has been force myself to keep my habits: going to run, read a bit every day, write a bit every day, and not just consumed myself in Netflix. Of course this is all for someone, like me, that had to spend many weeks in a city doing anything, because if you are working or studying is a lot more easier.

Anyway, for those that, like me, got a few spare days in a random American city, and got a bit bored, and you want to do something but you don’t want to spend money –the eternal dilemma- I will talk to you about things that’ve helped me to get out of the house time to time.

Barned and Nobles – Starbucks: these bookstore and coffee shop, respectively, are temples for those that want to be alone but with company. Yeah, the people you find in these place are usually doing stuff that they could easily do at their houses. Reading, drinking coffee or using their laptops… all of these with headphones on, isolating themselves from the people around, so I always wonder why they even got out of their houses. Here I got to understand that when you spend all day alone at your house being surrounded by people in a different environment can keep you sane. On the other hand, if you just remove the headphones, you get the chance to actually interact with other people, which would be impossible if you stay at home. And also, the kind of people that come to these places is the kind of people that are like you, so you already have one thing in common.

So I’m going to take a long shot here and tell you that, yeah, is may be a shallow and hollow thing to do, but going to the Shopping Centers can be great. Remember we are talking about America and, unlike Europe, this country is not design to be walked around, it doesn’t have pretty churches and buildings to go and see, and people usually never walk around for the good of it. So when you try to go out and enjoy the city… well, first, there’s not much to enjoy –and if you stare a long time to a pretty building, it is very likely that is private property and it’s totally allowed if they want to shoot you-, and second, you are a freak because you are walking and walking without destination. But Shopping Centers are small kingdoms where walking people is very important because it means they’re looking around to buy stuff. These places usually have nice walkways and cafes, and you even have music and everything. This is because they want you to spend all of your money and they turn the space into an enjoyable environment in which you don’t get tired of being –and spend- at. But it is nice and it is the closest thing you are going to have to a downtown, so if you are able to resist the temptations and to remember that the Devil Wears Prada, you can just go and enjoy a nice walk looking at the American culture in its maximum expression.

Walk around condos is another option if you want to get to know a bit more of how these people live. Condos are usually very safe places, and very pretty, with fake lakes, club houses, walkaways, fountains, parks and so. You get to see the American houses with the garages with the basketball thing, and the kids riding the bikes, and all those kind of things we see in movies. There are public condos are some houses are really amazing, you just feel like in a TV show, where a bunch of kids are going to get out of a bush with caps and and bikes.

And if it is so upsetting to you to be alone, or if you just have a couple of days and you don’t feel like spending all of your money in ubers, I remind you, my dear reader, that America is where Netflix was born, and I assure you that you won’t have any problem to find some nice seven-seasons TV show to fall in love with.

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