Thursday, May 19, 2016

Home Alone (Ahhh!)

The other day I read this wonderful essay by Helena Fitzgerald called "The Fierce Triumph of Loneliness." You should take a look at it if you get a chance. It's basically about living alone as a radical feminist act in a society that maintains that "women are the anchors of social labor, the glue pulling the family, and then the community, together with small talk and good manners and social niceties." As Leta pointed out, it's strange that she conflates aloneness and loneliness, but it's still a thoughtful piece.

Anyway, it got me thinking about something that I've been considering for a while: whenever and wherever I move from Vegas, I may want to live alone. Not because it's a radical feminist act, but simply because I have never done it. I lived with my family through high school, and ever since then I have lived with at least one roommate at all times. I've rarely even stayed in hotel rooms by myself, and on those occasions it's only been for a few days.

I've been fortunate enough to have lovely roommates throughout the years. I've been good friends with many of them, and I've gotten along well with the rest. There's something nice about having a person there to talk with when I get home. We may not constantly share meals or watch movies together, but it's comforting to know that if I go missing, somebody will notice sooner rather than later. And since I have hypochondria-related anxiety problems, I love the idea of having another human in the house who could dial 911 if necessary. (I know, I know--get back to a therapist, Becky.)

Despite all the benefits of roommate living, I wonder if I'm not inadvertently hindering myself by refusing to strike out on my own. I feel largely independent, but I can't possibly be fully independent if I'm splitting chores and bills and the other drudgeries of domestic life with someone else. Many of my friends who have lived alone for a while insist that I'm missing out (you can dance naked throughout the house and no one will care!), but I don't know about that. The privacy of my bedroom is usually enough for me.

So I could live alone, I suppose, when I move. It's an easy enough thing to accomplish. But I wish I could have a trial run. I'm worried that my anxiety will completely overtake me. Living alone won't be fun if I'm racked with panic attacks every night. Hopefully that won't happen--sometimes I think my anxiety will spike over certain things only to discover that it doesn't spike at all--but you never know.

Any advice? If you've adjusted from living with others to living alone, how did you make that transition easier on yourself? Pets? Long bouts of meditation? I'd appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

In other news, there is now professional video of me reading from my novel at Neon Lit last month. Enjoy.


  1. As always, a lovely, thoughtful article. Over the last 10 years, I've lived alone (in Chicago and now in Idaho) and with roomies (in Chicago and Madison). What can I say? There are advantages/disadvantages to both. I really like living alone, but-- since you mentioned anxiety-- I still get a bit freaked out at night. My bedroom was robbed when I was sleeping in it several years ago, and when I live/sleep alone, I still sometimes get up in the middle of the night to make sure the front door is locked. That having been said, I find it very relaxing to come home and have a choice whether or not to see people. I feel like living alone makes my apartment MY space in a way that I never felt living with roommates. And I can always choose to go out/invite someone over! On the flip side, when I was unemployed during the winter in Chicago, I got very lonely since I lived alone, was too poor to come out and noone wanted to make the trek to my apartment. So I would say that if alone time is important to you, you might love living alone, but there will be a few days when you want to see someone and everyone will be too busy/poor/etc.

    I used to think that EVERYONE should live alone at some point, but then I realized that I was basing that assumption on my Catholic-bred belief that EVERYONE gets married at some point and you should learn how to fend for yourself before that blessed event. I also think that if your sole reason for living alone is to prove that you can take care of yourself, you have really already proven that you are a capable, mature adult person by living in multiple places and forging ahead in your career. :)

    Hope this helps!

    1. First, I'm sorry it took me so long to reply to this. Second, I'm so sorry that happened to you! Getting burgled while you slept?! Some of us just get freaked out at night over nothing, so the fact that you only get freaked out sometimes is impressive.

      It's interesting that your former opinions on living alone were shaped by Catholic beliefs; I think mine were/are in a way, too. I have wacky guilt issues, and therefore I'm constantly trying to improve myself, and I think part of my desire to live alone comes from that--the idea that it will make me a better/stronger/less shameful person, which is, of course, totally ridiculous. There are other reasons it might be good, too, but I think the Catholic guilt thing definitely plays into it.


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