Living Alone By Choice

I have lived alone for many years–since 2005, to be exact.  I had some roommate-type people in my life for about six months in 2008, but it was an enormous house and I had the entire top floor, which had a luxurious bathroom by that country’s standards: it had a sort of bathtub that you could fit into if you scrunched yourself up very tightly.  The only time I had contact with the roommates was in the kitchen, and that was bad enough: two Orthodox Jewish women who kept meticulous Kosher (myself and my favored roomie) and the other, a contrary Dutch woman who wanted to convert to Judaism but was too stubborn to accept its laws.

We were not permitted, by Jewish law, to use any of her cooking or eating utensils; and the other Jewish woman was Chabad, and they have different (and much more strict) customs than the stream of Judaism I practiced, so she also had her own set of cooking and eating utensils, which consisted of a frying pan, a pot, a glass, a plate, a fork, a knife, and a spoon.  I am the post-professional cook, so I require lots and lots of cupboard space.  Luckily there was plenty.

That is, until the snow storm melted and got into the walls, and the walls sprouted huge bracket fungus which released choking spores into the air.  Time to move.

Even though I adore the Chabad woman, with whom I maintain an occasional but warm relationship, I was eager to find a place on my own.  It took me a few moves to find the right place, but it happened, and I was very happy there for four beautiful years.

Then my father’s various disasters started happening with increasing frequency, so I moved yet again, to the other side of the world, to be near him.

Now I live in what is basically a reclaimed barn.  I have running water from a live spring that comes out of one tap.  There is a two-gallon hot water heater–I don’t know whose brilliant idea that was, but I can tell you it’s not enough hot water to do a few dishes, or to wash myself or my hair, which requires heating water in the kettle and using a pitcher to pour it over my head over the sink.  Washing the rest of me is easier, but I won’t go into the details.

Bathroom there is none, as you may have surmised from the above paragraph.  In fine weather the toilet is outside.  When the weather is foul or cold, I have an electric incinerating toilet (a consolation gift from my mother, very unusual).  I am loth to use it, though, because contrary to the blurb on its website, it stinks to high heaven and I am forced to spend a small fortune on incense.

But–I live alone.  I don’t have to put up with anyone else’s habits or eccentricities, arguments over whether it’s pronounced “almonds” or “ah-monds,” or some well-meaning recycling obsessive type who goes through the trash in case I threw out recyclables or compostables (!) each and every time I toss something in the bin.  I can bloody well contribute anything I like to the ever-growing plague of solid waste on the planet.  And I beg the question of whether or not to compost by pointing out the bear tracks near my barn.  I’m certain no compost bin is completely bear-proof, and at the very least it would end up at the bottom of the cliff.  So the small amount of compostable waste I generate goes right in the bin and I feel absolutely no guilt about it.

I don’t have to deal with someone else’s bong filling the air with blue stinking haze.  Now, I should be the last to complain about someone enjoying a little smoke, since I do it myself.  I guess it’s a matter of scale.  I am a lightweight when it comes to intoxicants of all kinds.  I drink, yes: about half an ounce of Scotch or Bourbon will do, and one or two tokes on a small pipe takes care of my ganja needs.  My air is not so thick that you need to part the curtain of thick smoke just to remark to your wrecked roomie that the smoke detector seems to have been deactivated.

All things considered, I am very comfortable in my barn, with no one to bother or to bother me, and no one to ask me questions, or rifle through the trash after me, or argue about the pronunciation of the names of seeds.  My air is clear, my kitchen is Kosher but not overly so, and my view of the river is obstructed only by the leaves of the black birch and beech trees, when they are leafed out.

If the whole thing were lifted up and carried to the other side of the world, my joy would be complete.

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  1. I think some of us are just wired for living alone or at least with a lot of personal space. I love my spouse dearly, but she and I decided long ago that if the union of two extreme introverts was going to survive, we needed to live separately. It bothers some people that we don’t live together, but it’s what we need, so they will just have to deal.

    I love the image of the barn being lifted up, literally making aliyah! As always, I wish you the resources you need to get through this narrow passage in your life. Shavua tov!

    • Thank you, dear whose name I have already forgotten–I gave up being embarrassed about that because, well, it’s just me. Doesn’t mean I don’t love you 😛

      I am all for separate unions. If I ever have an intimate partner/spouse again, I am going to put that into the marriage contract: intimate relationship, separate living quarters. I do not want to have those awful tensions over who does this this way, and that is the only “right” way to take out the trash…sheesh, aren’t there plenty of other things for mature adults to argue over, without adding on the activities of daily living?

      “You left hair all over the soap, and you didn’t rinse the scum out of the shower.”
      “You left footprints in the shower.”
      “You left the seat up.”
      “You left the seat down.”

      Yup, these are all real ones, and those are only for starters…and I do not exempt myself from culprit-ness. I fully admit that I am a committed hermit, and living with other people full-time makes my teeth itch. So I applaud your maturity in being aware enough and having the intestinal fortitude to make it happen with your spouse–may you have many years of healthy happiness together separately!

      • Hee! So true on all of it. I would never want her to change, and goodness knows I’m not going to.

        Affectionately, Ruth

        • Bless the two of you for accepting each other’s needs! Lord knows, the world would be a much better place of we ALL did. Ruth. How could I forget? Two of my favorite ladies!

  2. Beautifully written description of your hermitage. Enjoy your solitude. (Running water sure would be nice, though!)

    • Thank you, Kitt! Yeah, the H2O thing…I’m putting in my request for a low-cost, ecologically responsible on-demand hot water heater (propane, it’s cheaper and works when the power is off), and a huge claw-foot bathtub that I can put on my deck and take long luxurious baths outdoors (oh yeah, I need a little bit of a roof on my 6′ by 6′ deck, just big enough for my tub so I don’t get rained on!) Bucolic, ain’t it? 😛

      • Laura – as usual very wittily, and elegantly written. As a recent widower (note there is no word for widowerhood in English – wonder why…..) I am slowly beginning to get used to the single state – after 45 years of coupledom. I’m finding it both frightening and exhilarating – sometimes at the same time! I’d certainly forgotten the joys of eating/not eating, showering/not showering, pursuing hobbies long dropped because the partner was bored by your obsession (eg why don’t you just enjoy the view instead of photographing it?). Etc. etc et etc. Still, I guess for me the preferred state must have been coupledom. Still … this space!

        • Hi Gerry–always nice to see you here or anywhere. 45 years is a long time. I can’t even imagine it. Even less can I imagine my parents’ marriage of 66 years (and counting)! I always joke that they’ve been married longer than I’ve been alive, and since they’ve understandably slowed down a bit, it takes them a while to “get it” and get outraged at the implication 😉 I don’t know, but my observation has been that for people who have been married most of their lives, and then find themselves suddenly single, they either 1) marry again within a short space, or 2) revel in their freedom to walk around in their underwear all day if they don’t have to go out. I think a nice mix of both would be a good thing. I have tried to marry people who have rigid ideas of how life ought to be lived, and that was a dreadful flop. Oh, and shucks…thanks for the compliment! Take good care….

  3. savemefrombpd

     /  June 23, 2014

    Very much relate to you about living alone! Oh how I hated having roommates. Whenever someone says that I should move and have roommates, I always feel like I’ve got to push about the stories of when I had roommates and actually how bad that was for me at times and generally why I prefer to live alone.
    But for me, I do know that there are also cons in me living alone, don’t get me wrong. I know that if I was healthier and if my life was ‘healthier’ in general then living alone would just be the icing on the cake and it’d be great!
    But it’s no. But both living alone and living with roommates has it’s pros and cons so I’m going with what I prefer and hope that other things will get better along the way.

    I also do hope that you and your barn could make aliyah! I hope you can return… All in it’s right time… 🙂

  4. Midwestern Plant Girl

     /  June 23, 2014

    I totally agree. I do enjoy my husband, however if something were to happen to him, I would just go build a tree house somewhere in the middle of a forest and live out my days. ..

  5. Morning Laura,
    There is a kind of magical serenity that comes with being completely (on our terms) left alone. It can’t be too weird as so many of us prefer and choose this lifestyle. Enjoy your peace! Doc.

  6. I understand some of it, though I am still unmarried and late by Indian standards I feel we need to give other other a lot of space emotional and physical, an idea blasphemous to many Indians.

    Hope you are well and so is your dad. Love to Noga.

    • Thank you my dear! One thing I noticed when I was in India was that because of the scarcity of jobs, many couples had to live apart a good deal while one member of the couple went far away to work, and I mean FAR away like Rajasthan to Tamil Nadu, and that cut across socio-economic boundaries. For instance my Ayurvedic physician worked in Coonoor while his wife was finishing up medical school somewhere else far away. They got to see each other once every month, four days, which I understand was actually a lot. The lower class workers got to see their families two or three times a year, maybe once if they were a gardener or a maid. No chance of their marriages becoming dull and boring, although I would say the risk of infidelity is high, especially among the men!!! We women seem to have ways of containing our animal nature. God knows many of our men try, but I believe the male is more impulsive and thinks less about the consequences of his actions. Not all of them, of course, but you will know what I am talking about. Om Shanti 🙂

  7. There are definite benefits to living by yourself. I say this at a time in my life when I still have two kids at home, one of whom is special needs and requires more than usual but is dearly loved with all my heart. The boys both are, as well as the daughter who now lives in Seattle. So, I can dream a bit about the benefits of living alone. And on the rare occasion that the kids are both off somewhere and it’s just hubby and I (the other half of my soul, to be clear), we relish in the peace and quiet and lack of responsibility. He and I can be completely and fully ourselves with each other so it’s kind of like being alone, but with the benefits of having someone who loves you and you love for all the good stuff 😉 As I’ve said, he’s terminally ill, and every once in a while encourages me to find another husband after he’s gone so I’m not alone. Really? At that point I’ll take all the benefits of living alone, after the kids are on their own (sp. needs son in supervised living). All I have to say to hubby is “Can you imagine having another wife if I were to die?” And he shuts right up. He’ll always be with me, anyway, just in a different way. Peace to your heart ❤

    • Wow….I’ve had a special needs son (still have one, thank the Lord), but I’ve never had a true love. I don’t know if I could handle it if I did have a true love and he were to die. Maybe that’s one reason I’m a hermit–no chance of putting myself out there and having it end in tragedy. A good friend of mine, with whom I had been lovers on and off, died a little over a year ago and I’m still grieving even though I hadn’t seen him in years, and he was engaged to someone else. I guess I just don’t take separations well, whether by death or divorce, of which I have had two. Being on the Autistic Spectrum doesn’t make well for relationships, especially ones that are destined to end. I guess all of them end at one time or another……

      • Oh, Laura,
        While it is still so hard to imagine life w/out my husband, and I am in denial most of time about it, I wouldn’t trade any of the times we’ve had to together. It is so worth it, for me, to have been blessed with this rare relationship, no matter how long we are together on this earth. Yes, I will fall apart when he goes. I do hope all my kids have moved out when it happens because I don’t think I’ll be worth a damn. But, each day with him is a gift that I cherish. I do understand about the Autism spectrum….my special needs son is Autistic (high functioning, yet also MR w/ speech/language issues) and one niece has Asperger’s. My niece struggles so much. My son, well, he is wonderful, but we do get frustrated at times with pieces of Autism in him; especially all the “me, me” stuff. Once he started taking Risperdone he really came out of himself a lot. He probably gives more thought to others than most Autistic folks. I’m running on too much. Anyway, I am sorry for your loss. Grieving can go on for quite a long time for someone you care about deeply. Peace to your heart

        • Thank you so much for your support. It really means a lot to me. You’re amazing in that you are able to give support to others, while still processing the loss of your precious husband, still living, as he is preparing to leave this world. I have a dear friend who lost his true love, and he says that he will never marry again because he feels that there is nothing that could possibly compare to his wife of 20 years, with whom he had many ups and downs but still a magical relationship. “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I can’t remember who said that, but I can only imagine what that must be like, as I have never had a deep love relationship like that. Maybe fear of losing, maybe the Spectrum, maybe the Adult Child of Abusive Parents–who knows? I don’t rule it out, that it could still happen, but being a hermit isn’t really a good way to meet people, and to tell you the truth, I’m afraid to meet people because it might shatter the safety of hermetic life. Bless you for managing to help others, while you are navigating the deep waters of your husband’s terminal illness. Much love to you–Laura

          • Laura,
            While receiving support is something I have/am really need, and am so grateful for, I also have a need to give support….so I’m not all that “unselfish”, if you want to call it that. I don’t know, I guess it’s really just a part of who I am, to reach out to others with love and support. My heavenly Father created me that way, and I was blessed enough to have earthly parents who raised me that way as well. But, thank you anyway for your blessings. I need all I can get 🙂
            I see the whole deep love relationship this way: if you are happy in your hermetic life and yourself as you are, then by all means I wouldn’t be concerned about finding that person. I am happy to hear that you are not ruling it out, though. God may indeed have someone He wants to put into your life in this way at some point, and being open to that will prepare you for it if it comes. Much Peace to your heart


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