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Claire looks at Living Alone

Being alone has its advantages.

The bathroom is all mine. All the food in the cupboard is stuff I like to eat. There's plenty of closet space. I control the TV remote.

All very important, but not much comfort when there is a whole day or night stretched out in front of me, and not a soul to spend it with. There are just too many of these days in my life.

I've lived alone for a long time, but it wasn't an easy transition for me. I lived with my parents, next my college roommate, my sister for a while and then my now ex-husband. I never lived by myself and was not prepared for the experience. Oh, I could take care of a home, cook, pay the bills, but what do you do with yourself after all the chores are done?

The first thing you notice when you live alone is that there isn't enough noise. There's a comfort in noises. Snoring, a shower running, dishes clanking in the kitchen are all reassuring sounds. When you are the only one making those noises, then all you notice is the silence.

I'm not sure how most people cope with the silence. I imagine that some resort to medication, but when I first started living alone I elected a less invasive method. I chose to use an electrical device that never failed to make me feel better. Just plug it in, turn it on and soon...bliss!

That's right, I chose television.

I spent a lot of nights sleeping with my TV. We became quite intimate as we kept company every night. Those days I knew what was on 24/7 without having to consult a TV guide.

I knew the 800 number of every infomercial, because in the middle of the night, you never know if you may need to make that call. Do I have anxiety? Can I re-size my body? Should I buy a house for no money down? Was that my ex in that Girls Gone Wild video?

Eventually I kicked that habit and don't even have cable anymore. I've made my peace with the silence and now we are good companions. Still, being single is contrary to our societal norm.

No matter how content I may be with being single, this world is made for group living and day-to-day situations and events arise which point to my singularity and make me feel the lack.

The most recent event occurred when I went to a new dentist. I filled out all the new patient paperwork and the last sheet was the "person to contact in case of emergency" page. Well, of course I was stymied by this piece of paper. I had no one to write down. How pathetic was that?

I eventually penned in my sister's name and phone number, even though she lives in another city and doesn't drive. She won't be much help in an emergency but it was better than leaving that space blank.

You have weird thoughts when you first start living alone and you realize that NO ONE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU ARE DOING. That's scary when you are used to someone knowing your every step.

What if something happened to me? Would anyone come looking for me? How long would it take before I was missed? Will my dog turn me into a giant chew toy before anyone comes to find my unconscious body?

Then one day I realized something wonderful. NO ONE KNOWS WHERE I AM OR WHAT I'M DOING! Turns out that can be a good thing. Not that I did anything daring or even all that exciting but it was freeing to know that the day was my own without restriction.

Just because I enjoy my alone time, doesn't mean that's how I wish to live. Being alone may mean you don't have to share the bathroom, but it also means that you are the only one around to clean it.

When I have a bad day at work, there's no one to talk about it with when I get home. There's no one to hold my hand when I'm scared or to hold me close when I'm sad. There's no one else to clean the house when it needs done but I'm too tired. No one to pay the bills, wash the car, go to the grocery, and on and on. Everything that needs to be done is on my plate. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done.

And it's not just the bad or boring stuff. There's also no one to share the good. No one to laugh with, relax with, to celebrate with. I recently received a promotion at work. I hadn't expected to get it but it was something that I had been working towards for years and was absolutely thrilled.

Everyone at work was happy for me but when I got home there was no confetti or celebration - just my empty house. I looked around and then sat down and cried. Success at work is a wonderful thing, but it's not everything.

I guess my life would be simpler if I was the loner type, but I crave companionship. I want to share the bathroom. I want to fight over who gets the remote. I want someone to know when I'm supposed to be home and to care whether I'm there or not.

Moving back in with my parents isn't an option. I'm sure they would be glad to have me and I'd certainly be able to hone my Scrabble skills, but I just can't do that.

Or I could fix up my extra bedroom and find myself a roommate - maybe rent-free if they promise to do the cleaning or shovel snow. Unfortunately, this isn't the type of companionship I have been imagining.

Certainly, somewhere in this world, there is a man who would like to add some noise to my life. I'd be willing to share some of my quiet with him.

If you happen to see him, point him my way. I like to think he's out there somewhere looking for me, but he's just too stubborn to ask for directions.

Closet space is negotiable.


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