The first time I lived completely on my own was freeing and scary

I haven’t actually lived entirely on my own, completely alone nearly as much as I would like. Being someone who prefers the lack of company most times, who enjoys being alone with her thoughts, I often find myself in desperate longing for solitude. Except when I have it.

It was 2010. It was during a very complicated back-and-forth series of moves from Idaho to Nebraska, Nebraska to Nevada, Nevada to Utah then back to Nevada before heading to Nebraska for a long stretch. That last time I landed in Nebraska was it for me. I got there June 2009. I was living in a van parked in my sister’s back yard at the time. I needed a job, house and vehicle of my own.

Candy was helping me get on my feet. She got me a van I could drive, helped me get on food stamps and unemployment for the time being and located a house for me that my parents agreed to buy to let me live in until they were ready to move. I moved into the house in the spring of 2010. This was one of the longest stretches of time in my entire life.

I remember moving into the old house the first day. It was a two story country house, you know the kind of messy, raggedy old run down beat up place adjacent to a corn field you’ve seen in a hundred scary movies. Yup it was that house. A total mess. Roof sinking in. No electricity. No a/c or heat. It was over take by weeds, including massive ditch weed which is a naturally grown marijuana plants for the uninitiated. Then there was the filth.

The family who lived there was a man and his wife who had a young kid. The house was a mess. They just packed their suitcases and moved out. They took only their furniture leaving the entire house piled knee high with garbage. It was dirty clothes, diapers, women’s hygiene products, everything just garbage. I tried to clean up but failed. I took bags of trash out every day and never put a dent in it. I pulled weeds, hacked away at the crap with my shovel daily. 

Inside the house my parents helped me get electricity. I also had internet. It was a four bedroom house. There was a master bedroom downstairs immediately through the living room with a large dining room to the side of that. Up stairs to the right was a tiny bedroom. Down the hall to the left was a large bedroom then at the end of the hall was a smaller room. I moved my stuff into the small room at the end of the hall. I picked it for a couple reasons. It was painted purple which appealed to me, plus was the right size for my bed, computer and a couple totes of clothes. I settled right in. I set up a card table for playing solo D&D adventures. I stapled blankets over all the windows so I could feminize during my private hours. Then I spent the rest of my time downloading movies, TV shows, video games, comic books and other digital files to my dozens of hard drives. I was still in my piracy phase so I had a little bit of everything.

I would sit on my desktop computer with speakers hooked up and watch TV, play videos games or watch movies for hours on end. I would take baths by myself and imagine what it would be like to live there forever. There was one complication, rodents.

The house was infested with mice, rats and naturally bats in the attic. Not to mention the insect vermin. It was in the country next to a corn field after all this was to be expected. This necessitated I take steps towards pest control. Enter Grayson and Shadow. I picked up two cats from a local lady who hung up a flyer at the local gas station. By the way this was a ghost town, literally, only 80 people lived scattered throughout it’s remains. The single business was part bar, part gas station, part sorta general store. It was off on the highway a short walk up the dirt road from my house.

The cats were brother and sister. I kept the names the lady gave them. The black long haired cat she called Shadow. Considering her evil heart I felt that was a sufficiently fitting description of that beast. Then there was the male cat. His name was Grayson. He was a short haired gray and white cat with fluffy fur but not too long. Not like Buddy. He became my most loyal pet ever. Sorry Buddy I love you to death but you got nothing on Grayson. 

I didn’t have to buy cat food. They got fat and I mean fat eating the vermin in the house. They got plenty of exercise chasing down their meals too. It was pretty fun time for a bit. But then after a couple of months the loneliness began to sink in. 

It was in the country in a dead town. There were no people. I could sit at the bar but I hated that. I sometimes socialized with either of my two sisters who also lived in town with their kids. I spent a lot of time with those kids. Candy had four at the time. Becky had her first two the third was on the way shortly. But that was it the full extent of my social life. This was when I really learned what it was like to live alone with nobody around. I savored the peace and quite. The tranquility of being free to wear women’s clothing sunup to sundown. I enjoyed my excess free time to watch all my shows, get caught up playing all my retro video games and I got far in that imaginary D&D campaign I was playing by myself using nothing but 1st edition books I had left over from my previous days of being a Dungeon Master.

I also spent an excessive amount of free time living in a perpetual state of day-dream. I imagined a whole life I lived entirely inside my thoughts. I became obsessed with this fantasy life I conjured up in my brain. So much so that I shifted my behavior to accommodate alone time to be able to spend as much time in my other life as I could. 

I won’t share the details of that imagined life not lived. What I will say is it was elaborate. It involved PTA meetings, going to the school for open house, running for mayor, starting a business, then another. It was a deeply intense scenario I am somewhat ashamed to admit I recreated thoroughly, on multiple systems, in Minecraft years later. 

June then July were two very long months. The time past and I waited. I didn’t have a steady job during this period of my life. Like many times before I relied on my wits to make just enough money to squeak by. My parents paid the loan and power bill. All I had to do was keep gas in my van, and buy my own groceries. I had food stamps so that was easy. I did some videography and photography work on the side for cash. I transferred some VHS tapes to DVD for a pretty interesting woman. I created a short introductory video for the closer by town. That was a work commissioned by the local Chamber of Commerce. They didn’t pay me in cash rather I got six months membership without paying dues. I tried to parlay that into some sort steady income. I failed of course but I generated just enough dough to live my isolated life I had always dreamt of having.

August arrived. The cats were beginning to drive me insane. Shadow was a female in heat. Her brother, Grayson was not fixed. I was constantly fighting that battle until one day Shadow decided to hell with indoor living she escaped captivity and entered the wilderness. I tried to bring her home to no avail. I mourned her loss and moved on. Grayson and I continued to prepare for the Fall. The arrival of cooler temperatures. 

By the time winter kicked in I was holed up in that little bedroom nearly full time. I removed the side of the desktop casing to allow the heat from the computer to help warm the bedroom. I had a single electric radiator heater. I stuffed blankets under the crack of the door, cuddled Grayson like it was the end of the world and bundled up in my thickest winter clothes. By now the loneliness had nearly driven me insane. I was enjoying my fantasy time but it was consuming me. I was so obsessed with downloading digital files I began trading away my toys for hard drives. Pretty soon I had terabytes of hard drive space, burned DVD discs and even bought a Blu Ray recorder to burn Blu Ray discs. I was obsessed. 

December arrived, my parents came with it. Having lost their jobs during the thick of the financial melt down mom and dad finally relocated to Nebraska as they had always talked about doing. Naturally this meant they reclaimed the house they had been paying for all this time. Which meant I was now, yet again, back to living with my parents. The dream was over. The nightmare had ended. I was back to reality. Instead of getting a job though, I finally had a real purpose in my life.

This time is the period of my life I consider rock bottom. I had given up on reality. I let go of my hopes and dreams. I settled for being on welfare, working odd jobs to fuel my soda addiction. I determined I could spend my entire life there peacefully playing D&D, day dreaming about a life not lived, downloading the entire Hollywood catalog. It was a snap back to reality. The fog lifted. I got into college that January and for the first time in my life took steps towards starting to live my real life.

Those few months I spent isolated in that house alone were some of the loneliest times of my life. It provided me with ample time to think which led to clarity in the end. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I had a plan. I had a new purpose. And I had an end goal, transitioning to Stephanie. Today I am enjoying the fruits of the labors that came next. The trials were only just beginning. I was about to embark on the wildest ride of my life that landed me in a suburb of Dallas, living as a woman running this here very blog. A semi retired journalist who’s got some interesting stories to tell indeed. My life nearly ended that summer. I am glad it wasn’t the end only a new beginning. 

Published by

Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos.