Here’s something you might not know about me:
I’m a recluse.
Not, like, a brown recluse – a spider that, if it bites you, will cause your flesh to rot off the bone.
(Though come to think of it, I did go to Brown, so I suppose, technically, I am a Brown recluse – which means it’s probably very philanthropic of me not to go around biting people. Feel free to thank me with large donations of tax-free cash.)
No, when it comes down to it, I’m just a plain old recluse recluse – the type of person who could most likely live out the rest of my life – happily – without ever leaving the confines of my home, a home I’ve come to think of as my Fortress of Solitude. (Or Dualitude, as the case may be, considering the Finance also lives here between business hours.)
I adore my Fortress. I like the feel of the place.
The space. The emptiness. The quiet.
The rooms, the windows, the 9 floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with their 1000+ books, the biggest TV I’ve ever owned in my life (fine, it’s actually the Finance’s TV – men always have the best TVs – but I spend more time with it than he does, so I figure I’ve got a pretty good case if it ever comes down to a custody battle), a comfy couch, a yummy bed to share with the equally yummy Finance… and best of all, a phone from which I can dial any number of restaurants willing to deliver.
Not to mention, in a pinch, the Finance will trek to the grocery store for essentials like Q-Tips and Twinkies.
However, in contrast to most recluses, I also like people.
Stop laughing. It’s true.
I find people interesting, in a physical-therapy kind of way – in the way that simply being around them seems to flex my humanity muscles. I like listening to their stories, hearing about their backgrounds, their plans for the future, debating with them, laughing with them, even crying with them. I mean, except for the Usual Gigantic Assholes to be found everywhere, I truly like being around people.
Which, from my understanding, is entirely uncharacteristic of your classic recluse.
Similarly, I enjoy writing for TV shows, a job that demands prolonged (and sometimes extremely intense) interaction with aforementioned people. This should be difficult given my self-identified recluse status, but to my own constant surprise, I find I make friends easily, and am quite gregarious when called upon – though when returned to the Fortress, I generally collapse from the exercise. (Hmm. Maybe “people” are my psychic yoga?) All the same, I never regret being with people – except for the Usual Gigantic Assholes, of course – though my reputation as a person who can maintain a real-life friendship is, frankly, pathetic in the extreme.
Because my natural equilibrium seems to level out at exactly one person:
With the exception of a couple years in my twenties, I’ve lived alone for half my life – though keep in mind, my first 18 years were spent packed into my family like a sardine in a can (a fact any armchair psychologist would speculate on regarding my preference for solitude). But no, I didn’t live alone because I was oh-so-neurotic, or oh-so-sad, but because I simply enjoyed being alone. Most of my favorite activities are solitary: writing, reading, watching TV and movies.
So when real-life friends invite me out, I actually have to fight my natural instinct to say no. And most of the time I don’t win. Not because I don’t like my friends – as I’ve said, I genuinely do like people – but because I prefer being alone to pretty much everything else, except perhaps, now, being with the Finance. And as any of my true, real-life friends will attest (and there are only a few of them left at this point, given my propensity to ditch out on pretty much any social engagement), it’s an extremely rare event that will motivate me to emerge from the Fortress. Finance living at the Fortress makes this even easier.
I have, however, gotten incrementally better at this since meeting the Finance because – holy tiny baby Jesus balls – if there was ever a more gregarious person, I have yet to meet him/her. The Finance talks to everyone – people at the gym, people walking down the sidewalks, people in line at Boston Market. Honestly, sometimes it’s exhausting for me just listening to him be social.
In truth, my preferred social group is online (due to the established norm of disappearing offline at one’s own discretion) – and when in real life it’s deemed absolutely necessary that I socialize – I prefer to mix with only one or two people at a time.
If it’s not for work, three people starts to max my nerves.
And I suppose that’s the key difference in my reclusedom: that I can compartmentalize being social and being with people. “Being social” means opening up my personal life, while being “with people” (for example, at work) means I can keep my Fortress… solitudinal.
Because I guess that’s where the real Fortress is: inside my head. And with the exception of the Finance, there are very few people I let in there.
So maybe I’m just an internal Brown recluse.
Though I swear to god, if anyone ever tries to drag me out of the Fortress, I’ll bite my own brain.