Such a relief, I think, to realize that I’m not a person that needs to go out every weekend. Now I can be who I was meant to be all my life: a recluse! A never-going-out, holing-up-at-home-with-loved-ones, marathon-book-reading person. Despite my predilection for rambling walks, I don’t stalk the moors in a tempest of emotional broodiness, though. I’m not entirely sheltered from the world, lost in a reality of my own invention. (Okay, that’s not true: I kind of do exist in a parallel nether-reality often, but it’s in my own head since that is where my characters currently live.) I am in the world! I am living life! I read The New Yorker! I just do it all in a more eccentric, INFJ/P way. It is not normal, but it is more me.
But the notion of a recluse is strange these days, I admit, especially when everyone is so Internet-on and social-networked. Everyone is like, “Kat, what are you doing? Aren’t you going crazy? Where have you been?” To which I answer: I am here, I am doing things like writing books and making a living, and I have been to lots of places, but most of them are not bars, clubs, restaurants, or other socializing type of things. Life is still full and interesting, but it requires more effort, and a different set of rules. Hence:
You still must dress nice. It is too easy to just wear workout clothes, or yoga clothes, or just pajamas all the time. This is not right, especially when you have a closet full of nice things to wear. Dresses! Lipstick! Accoutrements of glamour! Of course, my notion of glamour is slightly off, and I’ve defaulted to a kind of punk-nerdish tomboyish style, with small anime touches of lipstick and accessories. Recluse status has made me fashion-lazy. There is also nothing to buy here. But my savings are beautiful!
You maybe shouldn’t be a recluse unless there’s a big thing you’re working on. In my case: a book. An endlessly-being-revised book. I HAVE to be a recluse to get this thing done. There is no other way right now. If I didn’t have a Big Project, what would I be doing with my time?
Being older is the best excuse to be reclusive. I have become one of those older humans who do not go out anymore. I like to think of it as rare public appearances. As in, “I’m making a rare appearance at the bowling alley tonight.” But also: energy and attention and time are my most valuable resources, and I must use them wisely.
You must still do fun things. In my case: winning money on riverboat casinos, riding horses, rocking “Straight Up” on Dance Central, making dinners, watching Jim Jarmusch movies, cooking things, partying with three-year-olds who are related to you. Never going out hasn’t blunted curiosity or a desire for new experiences, I just seek them in other ways.
You shouldn’t live in a city where a major part of its value is what’s outside your front door. This is partly why I knew I shouldn’t be living in NYC for the time being. Why am I paying near $1,000 in rent to stay inside my apartment all the time? It made no sense, and being a deeply practical Midwesterner on some level, this was not acceptable. Maybe this will change. Maybe this will not. It is hard to say right now. I know myself to know that my “phases” can last a few years, and then I phase out into something else for another few years.
The only thing is that I don’t see my friends as much. But my friends live everywhere: London, Lisbon, New York, Australia, Chicago, L.A., Abidjan, Montreal. It’s like IMPOSSIBLE to see them! But I have to confess that everyone’s lives feel so full as well, with babies and husbands and wives and families and careers and crises, that it feels OK to drop off someone’s To-Do list. It is almost the best thing I could do for them, because the last thing I want to do is be yet another obligation for someone to have to check off. Reclusivity as an act of love?
Strangely, I remember witnessing this pattern through my parents as a child. When I was quite young, I remember their circle of friends, the lively gatherings that began on Saturday afternoons and went into late nights, drinking beer on the porch as the various little ones played soccer in the yard and then watched kung-fu movies in the evening. But the little ones got bigger, and the parents got busier, and those gatherings became fewer and fewer.
It is an inverse of my 20s, where friends are your life and line. This is the thing about olderness: the “projects” get bigger, your arrows of your honor pull more weight and speed, and all that is not essential drops away. As I get deeper in my 30s, it is something else entirely: true passions, family, sense of purpose, edged with mortality and the soft sorrow that everything is so fleeting.
(Right now I’m writing this in the middle of a thunderstorm, with a mug of tea, and it feels so recluse-y!)
Just a few beautiful things lately: if you haven’t checked it out already, the lovely Erica L. Scheidt at Royal Quiet Deluxe interviewed me on my novel! If you want to know more about my book, please do check it out. I can’t wait for Erica’s own book to come out next year. I think it is going to be amazing; it is already picking up awards!
And the novel: I’m reworking the beginning. I keep meaning to release the first chapter or two, but it’s “just not there” in the way I want it. I worked so hard on the 2nd half of the book that now I have to get the beginning up to scratch. But it’s coming!