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This profile is no longer available. Back to search results. Children leave home and create their own lives; my older daughter, Emily is taking a mature student's degree; Joshua, the doctor, works in the West Country; Rebecca, the TV reporter, lives with her husband and they are expecting their first baby. I mustn't nag them to spend more time with me. So instead I have found ways of making aloneness feel less lonely. Downsizing from my family home to a flat was a help. The vase my best friend gave me is on my table instead of being stashed away in a cupboard. So I fall asleep to Classic radio, which accompanies my dreams with decent music.
I understand why an American survey of more than , old people found that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking. You may have spent a lifetime looking after your family; now that they don't need you, it seems pointless to look after yourself. Cooking for one seems too much effort — I can't muster the energy or enthusiasm to make hot food for myself.
Cheese and biscuits and fruit fill the gaps. Although I am getting used to living on my own, I still think it's not natural. We humans are herd animals. If it were left to me, I'd make us all live in longhouses, like the ones in Nepal, with all the generations packed in together. We've evolved to depend upon each other, we need each other, especially the old. If I were a stone age woman aged 70, I'd never survive on my own. Without the warmth and protection of the tribe around me, the first cold winter would finish me off.
There are mornings when I potter around contentedly at my own pace, watching the sunrise as I sip my orange juice, happy not to have anyone else cluttering up the flat, using up the last tea bag or loo roll without replacing it. Pretty soon there'll be another cataclysm in my life, the arrival of a grandchild.
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Some claim that then I'll look back on these days alone with nostalgia. I can't wait. Good friends, a couple, are being kicked out of their apartment this month. Decent apartments can be hard to come by in Manhattan, so it's all hands on deck, trying to help with the search. I sat back from my computer and bristled. Ah, the power of two. There's nothing quite like it. The world favours pairs. Who wants to waste the wood building an ark for singletons? Even the word "singleton", to the American ear at least, reads as particularly insulting.
We never use it and thus it sticks out in conversation. I live alone. I have also lived with significant and sometimes not-so-significant others for brief periods of time. Truth be told, I was fine either way. There are profound perks and drawbacks to both, too numerous on both sides to list in earnest. I hope to one day co-sign a lease with another person but, well, it doesn't plague me that I have yet to do so. Put it this way: I've never had to violently tug at my own pillow at 2am to get myself to stop snoring.
In the past, I have not seen the state of my habitation and the state of my love life as connected. Cohabitation seems a greater leap in cities because it's all the harder to extract oneself if things turn sour. It's what keeps otherwise functional adults living with their mothers. The thing is, I am newly single this.
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On top of which, I own a cat. None of this was any different when I was romantically teamed with another human, yet suddenly these micro-activities bode poorly as an advertisement for my life. But the building blocks of our daily existence were always separate.
He never paid my rent and I never paid his. He was never subject to awkward conversations with my superintendent regarding clogged drains. I was never subject to the etiquette question of tipping his doorman around the holidays.
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Though most of my friends, attached and not, are in the exact same living situation, society still quietly damns the single-household dweller to one of two diagnoses:. I am socially awkward out in the world while my home is infested with vermin and the crackling sound of broken dreams. Who among us has not experienced elements of both states? And what does that mean for the future? I am partial to hot water. I like being able to come home late and collapse into bed without worrying about waking anyone with my drunken shoe removal.
This is not a matter of statistics or trends; it's my life. There is no advertisement for it. I have always needed time to retreat to my own company, and to be alone with my thoughts. Illness is a foreign land, and you go always alone. It's not an accident that it was during this time I began to write. I have friends who will live alone for the rest of their lives. We're social animals. Yet they reassert themselves in crises. For those who desire it, living alone is a tremendous luxury. Eric Klinenberg is convincing about the hows and whys of the rise in solitary living.
The set of circumstances he describes has provided many of us with an extraordinary freedom. This has been corrected. Colm Toibin, Topics Relationships. Family features.