I recently came across the following quote in a New York magazine feature on spending time alone in the city:

At home, suddenly, there is too much me. A stack of unpaid doctor’s bills. A box of clothes I keep forgetting to bring to Goodwill. Even the dust bunnies have grown familiar. This is when I log onto Priceline, or call around for mid-week specials, and I book a couple of nights at a hotel in a neighborhood that isn’t mine. Airbnb is not an option—the point is to escape personal artifacts entirely, not cozy up with a stranger’s. ... In this life, I am my better self.
— Kate Bolick, "Staying at a Hotel Alone," New York Magazine, July 27-August 9, 2015

Bolick brilliantly articulated what I felt all summer in my New York City sublet--unburdened from the maintenance of my own home, I was freed to work on my dissertation. Bills and chores and household decisions, left behind in Pittsburgh, did not siphon off any of my time or my mental energy. I totally felt like my better self.

Returning to Pittsburgh has been a rude reawakening. The house is always dirty, always needing to be purged of something or replenished with some supply. I've also resumed my role as a teaching assistant, which has its own forms of chores and responsibilities. I fantasize about packing up my dissertation and moving into a beachfront hut (in Bali? Bora Bora?) where my most difficult chore each day will be deciding which bathing suit to wear or in which chaise lounge I will sit and write. Bolick's strategy of a nearby (but not too nearby) hotel is more realistic, but home can only be ignored for so long. Today I paid my rent and spent an hour at Target stocking up on paper towels and peanut butter and trying to decide between a $12 and $16 toilet brush. I miss those carefree days of summer, but also recognize that that "better self" only exists in relation to my responsible adult self. 

Brooklyn Heights Promenade, 2012