While I was home alone for four days recently, I was reminded about how much easier it is to die when you live alone. Carrying the dog downstairs one evening, I stumbled, and though I managed to regain my balance before falling, I envisioned what might have happened had I not. I could have tumbled down the stairs and broken my neck with no one home to call for help.
This flash of imagined tragedy reminded me of an incident that occurred during the only year of my life when I was actually living alone. I wrote about a few years ago as Elysha and I were moving into our first apartment together:
I was setting up my computer in our new apartment when I was reminded of an incident that took place about two years ago while setting up the PC in another apartment.
I had just separated from my ex-wife and moved into an apartment down the street in Newington. It was the first time in my life that I was living alone (except for my dog, Kaleigh, of course), and it was strange for me. I’ve lived with Born Again Christians, co-workers, friends, and even strangers for one summer, but I had never lived alone.
It was about 6:00 AM and I was crawling under my desk, feeding wires through holes and becoming frustrated. It was the kind of task that required someone else’s help, just to grab hold of the wires as you passed them through the holes. I needed just a few seconds of assistance, and not having it, the struggle was highlighting my newfound loneliness.
In an effort to make things easier, I had plugged every connector into the power strip already, and as I was feeding the last of the wires up through the desk, I put a live one between my teeth in order to free my other hand, forgetting that the wire was already plugged in.
I woke up about three hours later. Kaleigh was licking my face and my head was pounding. The television, which I had turned on while setting up the computer, was still on, but I remember thinking that the show that I could hear from under my desk was all wrong.
“This show doesn’t come on this early.”
I then noticed that my tongue hurt as well. It felt as if it been burned, and I slowly began putting the pieces together. My headache had been caused by the sudden jerking of my body as the electrical current passed through me, smashing my head into the desk and giving me a concussion (I’m unfortunately prone to concussions because of a multitude of previous head injuries). My tongue had been burned by the metallic end of the cord, which thankfully had fallen out of my mouth.
I drove myself to the hospital to get checked out, thinking about how dangerous it is for people, but especially me, to be living alone. Considering the number of times I hurt myself, I was genuinely frightened about the prospect of relying on Kaleigh to call 911 the next time I was stung by a bee, electrocuted, knocked unconscious, or whatever else might happen.
My friends call this The Matty Factor.
The Matty Factor dictates that if someone is going to be injured on a particular day, it’s going to be Matty. If something is going to be broken on any given day, it will be Matty who breaks it. If something is going to be lost or stolen, it will be stolen from Matty or lost by him. If tragedy strikes, it will probably strike Matty first and hardest.
I know it seems silly to think that one person can create this degree of carnage, but unfortunately The Matty Factor usually holds true.
So living alone was risky to say the least.
Fortunately I survived my year in that apartment and now have Elysha in my life, poised and ready to call in case of emergency.
I’m sure she won’t have to wait too long.