I SAT AT ONE END OF MY COUCH WITH my dinner for one: toast with a bit of cheese. The sound of each bite—had I always chewed so loudly?—seemed to echo around my new apartment. I glanced at my phone. Nearly 8 p.m. I’d had a long day at my new job. I’d been looking forward to getting home. Now that I was here, though, I didn’t know what to do. Play music? Watch TV? Do some vacuuming? There was so much…silence. I set down my plate and picked up the phone. Should I text my older sisters, Kristin and Priscilla? “It’s too quiet. Please send help, stat!”
I put down my phone, knowing that request would never fly. I could imagine their reply: “You’ll get used to living on your own. Just give it time.”
It had been two months since the three of us had gone our separate ways.
If anything, I was even more lonely. My sisters and I had been roommates for nearly a decade in New York City. Sure, we’d squabbled over whose turn it was to load the dishwasher and take out the trash. But there was nothing like coming home from work to two people asking, “How was your day?”
Things changed after Kristin got married. At first, she and her husband, Ciaran, lived in the apartment with us. When our lease ended, they moved out. By then, Priscilla was getting married too. Our lives were clearly going in different directions.
ALMOST OVERNIGHT, IT SEEMED, I went from seeing my sisters every day to having to make plans to get together. Priscilla lived more than an hour away in New Jersey. Kristin was a subway ride away, not close enough that I could just drop by. And they were busy with their own lives. I didn’t want to bother them. Priscilla and her husband were house hunting. Kristin and Ciaran were expecting a baby. And me? I was experiencing empty-nest syndrome…in my thirties.
Our old place had been a constant blur of activity. Game nights. Impromptu fashion shows with our latest sales rack finds. We were always laughing. One night, Kristin and I came home from a Zumba class and found Priscilla in the living room, eating dinner. The perfect audience to show off our newly learned choreography, even if we both had about as much dance talent as Elaine on Seinfeld.
“Play the music!” I instructed.
Priscilla blasted the Zumba song on her cell phone. Kristin and I put on our best professional dancer faces and moved in time, arms swaying. Left hip, right hip. Then we walked with wide, exaggerated steps, circling around. Priscilla howled.
“I want to try!” she said. She jumped up from the couch and joined us. We were laughing so hard, we could barely take a step.
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