New house, new life?
For almost one year, I was living in the same house with my partner.
I still remember the first day I visited the house: I saw it between the palm trees, way beyond the busy main street of Arambol, a little town (in Indian standards) in the north of Goa.
The owners lived on the ground floor, which wasn’t surprising. It might seem strange, and indeed there’s some lack of privacy; however, that’s mostly how it goes all around India. The owner showed me the house, but I would have to discuss further information with his son.
Most of the houses in Goa have walls of all colors—yellow, orange, blue, purple, green, all in one house—and there’s only one window per room, I guess because it’s cheaper. But this house was a pearl, with white walls and countless windows. It was the perfect house for monsoon season that would be arriving at the beginning of June—it was important to not be on the ground floor because of the floods, or the top floor (to avoid infiltrations through the ceiling), and to have a lot of windows so all the light available could invade the house.
The next day, I took my partner just to that house from all the ones I’d visited previously. He wasn’t as excited as I was, but he was happy I’d found the perfect house for us. Later, I believe he’d begin to change his opinion and really appreciated the spacious and clean rooms bathed with sunlight.
We started to enjoy the house so much, we became too attached to it.
Several of our plans to travel didn’t happen because we couldn’t leave the house for too long—”the plants need to be watered,” “if we leave this house we won’t ever find anything as comfortable and clean,” and so on. We were so settled in that house that even when we were thinking about breaking up or giving each other space, we were still considering keeping the house together. How could that even work, right? So, yes, that’s how much we were rooted in the house, after only 10 months of living there. Several times, for various reasons, we thought about renting another place—near the beach, with Wi-Fi or air conditioning, an independent house with a garden and no landlords around. We actually did research and visit potential new homes, but never followed through with a move.
Then, the worst cyclone in more than 40 years hit Goa!
Every year, the monsoon is announced with a cyclone—but no one was expecting this one to be as harsh and to cause so much trouble. Our comfortable house became a hovel with no electricity, water, or mobile connection, and none of our basic needs were being met. The piles of dirty dishes started accumulating in the sink; the dirt, leaves, and bugs lost with the cyclone invaded our cave. The bathroom became useless—no water was available to shower, brush teeth, or even flush the toilet for almost five days!
Suddenly, our space wasn’t livable and we had no wish to stay there. And this house wasn’t going to be our home for another monsoon—it needed deep maintenance. Our bond with that house was finally broken.
On the second morning after the cyclone day, the third dry, dark day, as I playfully like to call it, I thought aloud that I would like to rent a house on my own and experience living by myself for the first time in my almost 26 years. The idea had been a bug in my ear for a while, but I’d found myself withholding it because I didn’t want to spoil my relationship with my partner. What would happen with the space we created together, the items we bought, the time we shared? What about our codependency, created through a year of cohabitating?
It seemed that my idea would be going all against society’s rules: once one meets their lover, they enjoy the time together, they get along marvelously, they decide to share a house or an apartment, energy, and money.
Once the couple stops living together or moves apart, it is because they are bringing closure to their connection. So what would people say about us? And our friends and family? Most would wonder what was wrong with our partnership or even wonder if we were no longer together, but we just weren’t ready to admit it.
These social “rules” become our biggest conditioning! My experience now motivates me to go against these rules, to test them, to slowly stop allowing them in my life.
What are my real desires? What do I want my experiences in life to be like? How do I frame my own life without trying to meet these social requirements? These questions can be applied to so many areas of one’s life—the relationships with our lovers, with our friends, with our family members and, even more important, the relationship with our own self.
Therefore, I went on a quest to find my own cozy little house that would fit all my needs. And I discovered a two-bedroom apartment in an empty building with an amazing view of the fields and…white walls! And the most incredible part is that I’m not even paying $100 monthly.
Living by myself is full of discovery: What do I do with my time when I’m bored? Where does my mind go every time my body is still? What’s my reaction to a bug in my home when I have no one to save me?
Moreover, as a freelancer, it was hard to coordinate my time, to focus on my projects with a distraction in the house, always ready to play, converse, and interact. Now, living in my little palace all alone, I can only blame myself for the lack of productivity or my choice of distractions. I am responsible for the organization and cleaning of the place and if something is out of position, it’s because I left it there (this totally helps my OCD about the disposal in the house).
While I’ve only been in my own place for a week, the experience, so far, has been positive and enriching. I have been enjoying my personal private space, my focus on my projects has increased, and my flow hasn’t been interrupted, allowing me to write more, to feel my creativity, and to observe where it leads me.
Along with that came the benefits for our relationship, which is a topic for another day.
My hope in sharing my experiment is to motivate you to be aware of all the decisions you make (or you don’t make) based on society’s conditioning, or on what society expects from us.
Do you want to be a character in someone else’s “expectations” movie, or the star in your own life?