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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Does Living Alone Make You Quirky?

There was a piece in the New York Times recently, titled, "One is the Quirkiest Number," that got me, someone who is single, thinking.

Until I was in my 40s I had never lived alone. Off to college at 17, married at 20, a mother at 21, and divorced at 40, I always had someone I was living with. Until my youngest left for college.

The fear of this was so great, it spurred me to write a novel based on what it's like to find yourself alone when you've spent your whole life surrounded by others. "The Best Worst Year" will be published soon, and I'm hoping many women will be able to relate to my beloved Cassie.

In the beginning I never thought I would adjust to living alone. For the first school year my daughter was gone I tried to be home as little as possible. I joined a writer's group, went back to college to take some journalism classes, started an internship at the newspaper I freelance for, and almost never ate a meal sitting down. I hated it.

 My house was deafeningly quiet after years of music and chaos wafting through the halls. Even my cat was gone having become a meal for a hungry coyote.

Over time though, I did adjust. Rather than fighting against it I became friends with my solitude. I was always someone who needed a certain amount of time alone, I'm a writer, it's part of the gig, but to become comfortable, and truly at home with aloneness was something new.

My daughter graduated four years ago from college so it's been a stretch of time that I have been on my own. Now I can say I'm very much all right with it. I'm so all right with it I've sometimes wondered if I could once again live with someone all the time.

See, the thing is, after so many years of being a wife and mother, I am able to do what I want, when I want. I can have some steamed broccoli and carrots for dinner, as I did tonight, and I can blast Britney Spears and dance in my bedroom as I did this morning. I can also just.be.quiet.

I don't want to spend the rest of my life living alone, that is not my goal. I want to share my home and my heart with someone I love. The wonderful difference now though is that I know I can be alone and be okay, More than okay, I can be happy. Yes I dream of having a beloved to share my day and bed with once again, but the confidence I have gained will allow me to make sure I'm doing it out of love and choice, not fear of being alone.

I may be a little quirky after having lived alone for a while, but I also think I am a better person for it. It may not have been my choice, but I'm glad I've gotten to see who I am on my own. It's not always pretty or perfect, but it's my life, and I'm living it for me.

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