I lived alone for almost ten years, from my early twenties until my early thirties.
One day a friend who always had a roommates came to visit. He asked what it was like to live alone. I told him about how I loved the freedom to do whatever I wanted and that it was very different from living with another person. “Watch this”, I said as I placed a cup on the table. “This cup will not move again until I move it. It could sit here for months if I let it”. His eyes grew wide. “Whoa”, he said. Yes, whoa.
If I were to put a cup on a table now, my biggest concern might be a little person knocking it over or taking it to wherever toddlers take things. The cup might never be found again.
When I lived alone I prided myself in having a comfortable apartment filled with lit candles, burning incense, interesting and quirky meditative sculptures, installation pieces and gargoyles. I had blue glass lamps with velvet lampshades and little tassels. Colorful scarves were draped artfully in accent. My own pottery was everywhere, a part of me made external that was in commune with it all. Black and white photographs covered the walls, woven rugs covered the floor. And music. Lots of music. Friends would come to my apartment and never want to leave. They called my apartment womb-like as they fell asleep on the couch.
After living in our house for four years I am just beginning to feel settled even though nothing is really as I want it to be. Nothing is imprinted with my decorative sensibilities. Who has the time with young children? Anything artful or interesting I install would quickly be uninstalled. My pottery is limited to high out-of-reach places.
When I lived alone I decided that Thursday evenings would be my time to be alone. If someone asked me to do something on a Thursday evening I would tell them I was busy. If they asked what I was doing I would tell them that I had a standing date with myself every Thursday. One has to insist on time alone or it will never happen. People loved the idea. After all, why do we only prioritize time as “busy” when it involves someone else? I would read poetry, listen to music from start to finish, watch silly television, work on my little garden and think, think, think. I was a party of one, and I loved it. It was nourishing, regenerating.
These days my weekly evening alone from years past seems deliciously decadent. These days I might have a thought in my head and have to wait for hours to properly write it. Many days I don’t have a moment alone for self-care. When I try to prioritize a few moments of time for myself it feels like an inconvenience to everyone. Continually in demand.
Now that I have a family, my life is less about me. I get lost in the details. The house isn’t as I like it. Others alter things in ways that I don’t always like. I don’t get to focus on my interests or myself.
If I didn’t already have time to get to know myself so well, I might not know who I am now.
There was a season for me. It helped solidify who I am at the core. Now I have others around me, a new season with the richness of a summer ecosystem. Sweetness around me like apple on my solid core.