Ordinary Phenomena: Dog Days and Everydays

You give yourself experiences as gifts, letting your inner child sit in the space of your cerebrum.

A smiling femme person in a yellow blouse drinking coffee alongside a dog with a puppuccino.

When you were younger, you might’ve seen a man eating alone in a restaurant and felt sorry for the guy. You might’ve seen a woman at the theatre settling in alone for the show, and pitied her. You might’ve even seen someone swaying alone to their headphones on the train, and thought: poor thing, all alone, with only their reflection in the window or their phone for a friend. But now you’re older, and you’ve started to understand the beauty of living alone in the world. At lunch, you explore the city, sliding into a booth in a Chinese restaurant and writing poems on your Notes app. You scoop shredded beef with garlic into your mouth. Then, when you’re done, you walk down the street, grab some gelato from an Italian vendor with a smile that tickles his ears, and find yourself in the Royal Botanic Gardens. You’re surrounded by sun and the smell of pollen. You move with wonder, because you can, because no one is there to stop you. When the hours unravel you let yourself drift, accountable only to yourself. There are things you’ve always wanted to do, things you watched in awe of as a child, that you were too afraid or embarrassed or insecure to admit you wanted. You give yourself experiences as gifts, letting your inner child sit in the space of your cerebrum as you ice skate, take a crocheting class, visit the aquarium and marvel at the stingrays for far too long. You go strawberry picking, walk the footpath meticulously so as not to touch the cracks, buy full-priced popcorn at the movie theatre. Sometimes you overdress, eat candy for dinner, wake up at dawn just to see the sun strung up in the sky like a prop in a play, then you go back to bed and sleep as long as your body will allow. You adopt a dog, fill your apartment with plants, paint murals onto the walls and pierce and tattoo your body into something magnificent to witness. You go to that dog-friendly cafe you always used to walk past, your dog lapping at a puppuccino, you sipping at a hot chocolate, and in the reflection of the shop front you look so different to how you remember. It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment you grew, whether it was somewhere between graduating high school and starting university, or whether it was when you had your hair cut for the first time, whether it happened when you got your first job, if it was the day you decided to stop shrinking to fit in. You don’t look any different, and in the same way you are unrecognisable, sitting there, all by yourself like the man in the restaurant or the woman at the theatre. You used to be surrounded by so many people, all kept at arm’s length, and how lonely it was. Now you have a few close friends, maybe more than you ever imagined you could hold at once, and you love them all. But most importantly, you’ve learnt to love being alone. Beholden to no one, except your canine friend and a number of succulents by your bedroom window. Maybe one day you’ll have a family to answer to, a full-time job, a mortgage to which you can see no end, but until then you have the world to wander. And you have you. At the end of the day, what could be better than to know you, to love you, to be you the way only you can?

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