I have learned much from living alone for the past five months. I create less trash than I thought. Being in a vegetarian-only space is more important to my sense of well-being than I knew. I like hitting snooze several times on the radio-alarm clock and waking up slowly in the morning. I hate being the only one who ever walks The Dog.
And interestingly (to those of you who know me well), I don’t feel compelled to be such a neat freak. When I lived with other people, it felt like leaving one plate in the sink was an invitation to disaster because Someone Else would come along and decide they never had to clean the kitchen again. I couldn’t ever relax. The same emotional pattern seems to apply about money. I now feel comfortable buying a book or ordering pizza when I want to, because I’m not afraid that Someone Else will take that as a signal to spend all the rent money in a three-day blur of CDs, clothes, computer games, and takeout.
My fears don’t seem that unrealistic when I review my experience in several past relationships – so knowing what I feel like when I can let the fear go has taught me something about what kind of people I can allow myself to share a home or budget with in the future. I had no idea that I’d spent so much time being afraid. Not afraid of bodily injury, but afraid of always having to work so hard to get my basic “household” needs met: cleanliness, financial security, consonance with my basic values of environmental responsibility and vegetarianism. A safe and pleasant place to live.
Do I want to live alone forever? No. I have learned that I need people around to chat with as much as I need big blocks of time to myself to work on projects. But month by month I feel like I’m getting more sane. It feels more like living and less like (what I hear) defensive driving (feels like). I like it.
Now if I can just get the lizards to walk The Dog…