I am extraordinarily excited for Feb. 15.
Feb. 15, for the uninitiated, is SLABentine’s Day, a soon-to-be national holiday. This day is set aside to celebrate SLABs everywhere, people who self-identify as “Single, Lonely, And Bitter” (concept conceived by esteemed SLABs, Jacob and Rachel; motto: “Hell is other people”). A group of us, all single or nearly, are going to march into a French-ish restaurant, brandishing Groupon discounts, and eat all the crème brûlée we want. We will be in our sartorial finest, and we will be class acts. Who knows how much rosé we will have drunk before dinner? How many of those heart-shaped chalk candies and how many gourmet truffles we will have consumed? At the very least, we know we will be rolling down the seasonal aisle of our local CVS (“V” for value!) first thing in the morning. We will feel, among us, so much amour.
I admit I’m a recent convert, initially reluctant about the seemingly defensive, rah-rah Girl Power angle many female-targeted articles take to make loveless women feel better about themselves. (Girl, it’s not you, it’s consumerism and society and men everywhere. You? You keep doin’ yo’ thang.) Yet, these articles miss an important point: it’s often so great to be alone in general, not just romantically unattached.
My first year of being genuinely single in college is great: I’m always miraculously free at the same time as myself; my solo date ideas never fail to fly with those involved. There’s something inevitable and perverse about the way Harvard life distills all commitments, be they obligatory or recreational, perfunctorily dull or emotionally intense, into tastefully de-saturated rectangles on my Google calendar. Or maybe, I admit, I was just doing it wrong.
I’ve found that, here, solitary time—scheduled or not—is wholly underrated. Why would you just hang out with yourself when you could be listening to famous people talk, when you could be engaging with your fellow brilliant minds of tomorrow? Why bother spending downtime with yourself, when you could be getting ahead on next month’s psets, when you could be sleeping? (Granted, the latter is indeed a tantalizing alternative.)
I guess there’s some sort of stigma attached to being seen alone on campus. I often feel a sort of guilt when I choose to eat meals by myself, a guilt that I seem asocial and perhaps also a fear that I seem not worth befriending. As a result, I read a lot more of The Crimson and HUDS announcements than I otherwise would. Perhaps that is why you’re reading this very piece at this very moment.
Last month I went to the movies by myself for the very first time. I decided at 9:55 p.m. that I had a terrible craving for movie theater popcorn and jumped on the quad shuttle to catch the last showing of the night. I guess “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” wasn’t an optimal date movie anyway, but it was so freeing to decide to go on a whim, all by myself, unencumbered by friends’ slow responses and general inertia. And no one I cared about was there to listen to me crunch my popcorn or contest my monopoly on both armrests. For once, I didn’t feel obligated to make conversation at the first step out of the theater; I didn’t feel required to immediately find a verdict on the film. I emerged from the theater to one of this winter’s first snows, and all was quiet under the orange night sky as I walked back on even, piss-free snow. I felt kind of like how Liz Salander does at the end of the film, wistful, at peace, and alone but exquisitely. I had a great night, and I don’t really wish you were there.
All that being said, I do want to make it clear that I wouldn’t exactly be outraged if somebody, you know, felt like inquiring as to whether or not I were free for dinner or drinks or something. But you should probably also know that you’re up against some pretty attractive plans I’ve made for myself and just myself. Happy SLABentine’s Day, that is, to you and perhaps just you!