After a few days unpacking, shopping, and doing a culinary tour of DC, I had to go back to Hampton Roads to tie up loose ends, including the moveout cleaning of my old apartment, a walk-through with the lovely front office folks who decide whether I get my deposit back, dropping some unneeded items at the Salvation Army, and picking up my cat/son Chester from his aunt Maggie’s (I couldn’t allow his little funny face to be around all the chaos associated with moving). Of course, since I’d be coming back as a non-resident, I had to do some touristy things. I rolled into Williamsburg at around 2 and dropped $40 on peanuts from The Peanut Store. From now on, I have to get those Virginia peanuts whenever I tour Virginia. I then met with my buddy Drew/Brometheus at Craft 31, where I had one of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. There were also some uniquely spiced wings in the mix. We caught up on our inside jokes (Fugayzi/Fugazi) and talked music, movies, future plans, and all the COVIDidiots/Karens who feel they’re making a political statement by not wearing a mask (my sincere empathy to all my mask-wearing friends named Karen; I love and salte you).
After dropping by my apartment to pick up old dishes for donation to the Salvation Army, I headed over to Sherrie’s Airbnb. A powernap did me good, as did a jog along Buckroe Beach. I chilled out the rest of the night by starting Season 5 of Shameless, that delicious dark comedy starring a disheveled William H. Macy.
The following morning, I woke up and had a nice greasy breakfast over at Laura’s Rise and Shine on Buckroe Avenue. That’s when the weirdness of being a tourist in Hampton Roads hit me; I was craving a biscuit with gravy being in the South, yet I had lived in the South for six years, and I’m pretty sure I never had biscuits with gravy as a Hampton Roads resident (I always ate healthy for breakfast as a resident, and will continue to do as a Washingtonian). But as a tourist in the South, I can indulge in greasy Southern delicacies guilt-free!
I drove around to the Salvation Army, and I pledged to support Aroma’s, the coffee shop near by old apartment, once it opened back up. So I sit here now, writing.
This is just a few minutes later. After four years of living just a few hundred feet from it, I decided to support the Juice Life Bar by getting a Tropical Mango smoothie; it was heavenly. No fruit chunks, which is how I like my smoothie. I walked around the City Center Fountains (perhaps, for the first time, sans headphones). And then I sat and stared at the water. In six years, I hadn’t just sat there. It felt serene.
After a powernap and viewing of a Shameless episode, I met up with Sherrie and Maggie at Surf Rider, the first restaurant I ever ate at in Hampton Roads. This was during my interview with my former job, during which I nibbled on the largest crab cake I had ever seen to that point. I couldn’t quite eat due to the rapid-fire questions I was getting from my soon-to-be department chair (I must have answered well due to the fact that I got the job and was there for six years).
I was pretty satiated from the tuna bites and crab dip we shared, but I still devoured that shrimp Po Boy and fries combo just the same. We worked it off with a walk along Buckroe Beach, but I still couldn’t eat breakfast the following morning.
I ran a few errands, including buying new drip pans in the goal of getting my security deposit back. After waiting thirty minutes for the rep to arrive, she went through the checklist, and they may have to remove the carpet (long story). After this, I got some takeout from a hole-in-the-wall in Hampton called The Barking Dog, where I devoured two chili dogs and some potato salad. It’s interesting how I passed by so many restaurants during my time in Hampton Roads but never ate there. That’ll change when I continue to come back as a tourist.
This was written on August 1, 2020. I'm behind due to this moving stuff.
Part 5 Unpacking: The Final Frontier
During my first night sleeping in my new pad, I snoozed like a baby. I rolled out of bed at 9, and the big project was hanging up pictures. Since I’m thrifty (cheap), I put all of my picture hangers in a bag and reused them. Trying to angle pictures and make them look uniform is a pain, but I had podcasts (The Simpsons Show Podcast and the Creative Writer’s Toolbox) and Phish’s July 23, 2017 show from Madison Square Garden to get me through it. I hung up my last picture at around 2, at which point I took a much-needed nap. After I woke up, I ordered some knick-knacks (a smaller silverware drawer organizer, toilet plunger/brush combo, new drinking glasses, among many other things), and then treated myself to some chicken vermicelli from the Pho place next door. Tomorrow, it’s back to proteins and green veggies for a few days before I take my trip to Newport News.
I slept like a baby at the hotel (I had paid for two nights, so I figured I’d get my money’s worth). I headed back to my place at around 9 a.m., and I plowed through the boxes (the most fun part was unloading my books and DVDs). I have so many books and, due to COVID, no office to place any of them, so I’ll be shelling out $30 a month for a storage unit. The fun of urban living. Oh well, it’s worth it to have DC as my oyster. I can’t wait till I can explore it without a facemask!
Note to self: don’t drink caffeinated soda late at night, particularly when you don’t do it very often. I was up at 5:30 in the morning, wired from last night’s carbs and caffeine; I opted to stay in a nearby Days Inn due to my bed not having been moved. I watched an episode of F is For Family on Netflix and a movie on my iPad called The Assistant, which does a great job of exploring power dynamics in the corporate space.
The movers came at around 10. They did a great job, but sadly, my couch was too bulky to fit in the door, and every time they tried to angle it in, it hit the opposite wall in the tiny hallway. That’s the downside of urban living. I went through the grieving process pretty quickly; sadly, I’ll have to fork down some funds for a new couch. Oh well, we had a good 10-year run.
After the movers got done, it was time for me to unpack. The next few hours passed in a blur as I set up my bed and bedroom closet. I took a dinner break at around 7 with some Pad Thai (first time I ever had Thai delivered). At this time, the cable people came; it’s all self-installation due to the COVID, but he did hook the Internet up. And I managed to stupidly throw away a piece of glass that functioned as a holder for the TV (don’t ask), so it was pointless to do cable.
The fun of solo moving. But I got Internet hooked up; once I finished the bedroom, I decided to call it a night.
I slept quite well last night and woke at around 8. After putting some final bubble wraps on items, I was met by the movers’ 10:30 arrival. As they loaded all my furniture into their truck, things became surreal as the apartment no longer felt like mine. I talked with Damien, the driver, who found a card from Magic: The Gathering, which my brother must have left during his visit last summer. He indicated he used to play, but having kids put a damper on that. I thought, I’m glad I’m free to make this move.
I can’t stand I-95; it’s always congested, and the only thing to look at is trees. I also get a bit tepid about city driving, so I was on edge. That is, until I actually hit DC. Once I got off 395, I was met with a beautiful urban landscape, along with a view of the Lincoln Memorial as I crossed the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Rock Creek Parkway is a beautiful drive, and when I hit Connecticut Avenue, I knew I was home. Just a long street of cool restaurants and shops.
I’m in love with my apartment building. Apparent solo dwellers abound. My space is a little smaller than my previous apartment, but I guess that’s the trade-off in urban living. Chester and I will adjust.
I was pretty wiped out after I unloaded my car. I park in an underground garage, and take an elevator up to the fourth floor. A little more of a trip than my simple parking spot-to-door route. For some reason, I crave pizza after doing physical labor. So I found a place, the Italian Pizza Kitchen, and devoured a personal Italian pizza (sausage, bacon, onions, green peppers) and a cannoli. Since the movers wouldn’t be making it until the next day, I checked into a nearby Days Inn. I got an e-mail from the Provost at my new school welcoming us as faculty, which wired me for the night. I fell asleep quickly but was up at 4:30 this morning. It’s gonna be a long day for sure!
Part 1 – Packing
On May 1 of this past year, I was officially offered a position at a university in Washington, DC. One of the reasons for my excitement is that a large city like DC is a much friendlier locale for us singletons than a Southern suburb like Newport News, Virginia.
However, this pandemic is providing a twist. I’ve moved quite a few times for work, and each time, I’ve socialized heavily, which I’m even surprised by, being an introvert and all. Not this time. I have gotten to see friends in small groups, which is nice for an introvert, but I didn’t get to really immerse myself in seeing friends as much as I would have liked. Part of it was due to my summer teaching schedule and part of it was just that a lot of us are on different schedules.
This summer, I did keep busy with writing and teaching, not to mention all the details that go with moving, like finding a new place (which I did, half a mile from work!), changing my cable, Internet and electricity, and all that packing. As I write this, 99% of my apartment is in boxes, bags, and bubble wrap. And it’s unnerving – essentially, my whole life is in boxes. And due to the pandemic, going out is a crapshoot. I’m constantly washing my hands, taking my temperature, and escapes from the mess are rare because, well, I’m following the protocol and staying home. Which I do agree we should do.
But as I write this, I’m grateful for the time I have gotten to spend with friends. I went miniature golfing with one and had a few nice dinners and socially distanced walks with others. I’m just going through the grieving process. Change is hard. And while I love singlehood, moving solo presents an additional challenge. But as I sit here in what was my apartment, the eve before the move, I feel a mixture of emotions, most notably excitement and sadness. But I’m moving forward. And once I finished my perishable items, I began to enjoy some culinary delights (see pictured).
The phrase “’splaining” has entered the public lexicon lately as a way of defining how members of privileged groups “talk down” to marginalized groups. Mansplaining is the most common one. It’s defined as “the explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.” I even found a really cool chart here that breaks it down. Ever since the tragedy involving George Floyd and subsequent protests, I’ve become more conscious of my own white privilege and have been researching ways I can be an ally. In this article a friend sent me, I learned about the term “whitesplaining,” which involves a white person trying to offer a “better insight/opinion” to that of a person of color.
In my book, How to be a Happy Bachelor, I coined the term procreamania, to refer to society’s obsession with procreation and the concept of “family.” Now, I’d like to add another, a term that I hope becomes a popular one: couplesplaining or marriedsplaining.
On the various single pages of which I’m a part, people vent about various aspects of singlehood. On the Single Serving Podcast page, many share about their dating horror stories or ask for dating advice. The Community of Single People page doesn’t have dating discussions, but people do share about slights and discriminations against single people. These two pages are safe zones, but when we exit those spaces, it becomes a different dynamic. I’ll start with an example from my experience.
I once posted a news report about how Vicki Larson argues that singles should receive the same benefits as married couples. Outside of my singles groups, I don’t typically get a ton of feedback or “likes” on those rare occasions when I post about these things. However, a married “friend,” decided to comment, “I’m not quite following. Married couples and families pay additional for benefits that cover additional parties” (I put “friend” in quotes because some of his previous condescending comments about singletons essentially caused me to not call him anymore, but since we go back to childhood, I still grant him a place on my Facebook page). That’s couplesplaining, mentioning how hard it is for married folks when singles try to advocate for themselves.
Fortunately, I responded with Bella’s article about marital privilege, as did she. Said “friend” had nothing to respond with.
Many singletons who aren’t “single at heart’ face challenges in their dating lives, so they may vent to their married/coupled friends. When they’re venting, they’re not looking for advice; they just want someone to listen. Marriage apparently doesn’t help everyone with their listening skills because some folks want to preach. “When I was dating my wife, yada yada…” or “Put yourself out there! Time’s a-wasting!” Coupled people need to learn to shut the f__ up about their “expertise” on dating. After all, some of them have been married so long they don’t know how dating works in the 21st century.
Oh, and if you’re a singleton and you mention your happiness around a married person, chances are, that married person might get uncomfortable. If he’s feeling really salty, he might talk about how good his marriage is, or how good marriage is in general. Bella (and I) would call that person a matrimaniac.
In a future post, I’ll write a bit more diplomatically about how coupled people can support singletons. But, for now, the moral of the story is: coupled folks, please shut the f___ up about our single lives.
Steve’s Old World mother felt saddened by the fact that he just wasn’t looking to settle down with a woman. But the best relationship advice he ever got was “You don’t need a woman; you have a cat.” Indeed, Charlie woke him up every day by licking the back of his head. When he left for work, the feline would grab his leg as if to say, “You can’t leave!” When he returned from the office, Charlie would be on his leg once again.
Hundreds of friends and family members attended Steve’s funeral. His tombstone read, “Best Cat Dad ever.”
Frank, Larry, and Pete finished up their monster plate of wings at Blue’s Pub. Fraternity brothers from college, they had met once a month for the past twenty-five years to catch up and reminisce. As Larry finished the last wing, Frank said, “Who’s up for some shots?”
Larry had to finish packing for a flight to New York to meet with the publisher of his upcoming book, while it was time for Pete to give his cat her pills.
After they left, Frank ordered his usual shot of Dewar’s with a Heineken chaser. And then another. Wifey could wait.
Editor's Note: Rachel Sutton, a graduating senior at Hampton University, and student in my How to be Single and Happy class, wrote this letter about how the Fair Housing Act can be interpreted by some to be discriminatory against singles; her letter calls to level the playing field.
216 Multi Use Facility
Hampton, VA 23668
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112
To Whom it May Concern:
The Federal Fair Housing Act under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states that it does not prohibit marital status discrimination. However, fewer than half of the states have laws that prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of marital status. Furthermore, in some of these states, courts have interpreted the laws so that unmarried couples do not receive protection from housing discrimination. In other states, courts have broadly interpreted the laws to give unmarried couples protection from housing discrimination.
This is completely unfair due to the fact that landlords can refuse single individuals housing or place unnecessary rules in their lease. In addition, states are interpreting the law so that it does not work in the favor of single individuals, which is a continued issue. Many cities have zoning laws as well, which allow an unlimited number of relatives to live together in a "single family" zone, but prohibits a group of single adults from living in the same area. This could further complicate a single person that is looking for a place to live, due to who is living around them.
The Federal Fair Housing Act completely prohibits marital status discrimination due to the loopholes that many states, and their landlords have found. The document needs to include specifics so that states can not discriminate on their own basis, and so that it will be fairer for people regardless of where they are in the U.S.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.