(Originally printed in the Four Corners Free Press, February 2018)
Due to a very, large, handful of unforeseen surprises in my life, (read: my life imploded) I find myself in a situation that I never thought I’d be in again…
I live alone.
I live with two cats and one dog, so not alone alone. But, I have no other humans in my home.
Moreover, I am completely reveling in it.
When I got married and had kids I figured I would never live alone again. That is the plan right? Until death do us part.
Then divorce did us part, but I still had kids at home. So. Not. Alone.
Eventually though, I loved having my own room so much that I came to a place of never wanting to live with anyone. Again.
Their time at home was limited.
I like my space.
I like going hours without talking to anyone.
And then, change of plans, I moved in with a boyfriend and became one in a household of five; four of whom are male.
Two dogs. Two cats. Fourteen chickens. Ten pigs. Two horses. A bunch of steers and various and sundry other human beings, all men, who lived and worked at our place.
And now, it’s just me.
The last time I lived alone was 25 years ago in my cabin in the Wasatch. I had to ski 3.5 miles each way between home and work. I had no radio, no phone, no way to connect with the outside world when I was there.
My nearest neighbor was ½ mile of breaking trail through waist-deep snow away.
It was a joyous time in my life.
Then I fell in love, moved in with my then-future-now-ex-husband, and gave up all fantasies of ever experiencing that again.
And yet, at 52 years old, here I am.
“Aren’t you lonely?”
Most definitely not.
But, I will say that my life looks very different in very many ways.
Some changes are small, some, more extreme than others.
For one, I no longer sleep in a king size bed. Besides not needing that much space at the moment, a mattress that wide is bigger than my entire house.
In my full size bed sleep two cats who had been forced to live outside for several years due to “allergies” and one cat’s propensity to pee on everything.
Interestingly enough, once the person with allergies was removed, the random and inappropriate urination ceased.
I have a right-handful of splinters. I can get them out of my left hand but am too uncoordinated with that hand to remove them from my right.
I don’t have that person to whom to say, “Honey, will you get the tweezers…”
I read books, do the crossword, write, and watch The Crown, all in the living room. No more hiding out in my bedroom to escape the testosterone-induced chaos and stink that filled the living room before this one.
When I buy food, it’s still in the fridge the next day.
After I finish the dishes, the sink remains empty. Sometimes from sunup to sundown.
I listen to music almost all of the time.
Before, the only place I ever listened consistently was work. Couldn’t do it at home; all of those bodies under one roof created enough music of it’s own.
My truck became my refuge. I drove in silence just to hear nothing.
When I moved, I bought an echo because I had no other source for tunes.
Alexa, oh Alexa: you royal pain in the arse. You are worse than a teenager.
Do you ever get tired of me calling you a b@#$%?
I prepare actual meals and sit down to eat them.
And I don’t come downstairs in the morning to the aftermath.
I do have to be more careful as I move through my physical world. I am fully aware that one little mishap could turn south very quickly.
If I could remember my neighbors’ names it would be different, but essentially, if I get hurt or incapacitated, I’m on my own. Might as well still be living 3 miles in.
With that said, when I need to ascend my wood pile, I think, “If these logs roll, I could get broken, really uncomfortable, and cold, and I’d have some serious splinters to boot.”
I am terrified of splitting wood because I wonder what will happen if I cut off my hand or my leg? No one will find me and I will bleed out in my yard while Elvis mournfully looks on.
So, when I uber-cautiously put hatchet to log, I am embarrassingly hesitant and ineffectual. After a half-assed swing where metal simply glances off aspen instead of slicing through, everything falls on the ground, and I look over my shoulder sure that the nameless neighbors are watching out their windows with pity.
I walk around naked.
They’re probably watching that scene with pity also.
I stare out the window for hours on end. I don’t answer the phone. No one drops in.
I am not woken up. I don’t wait up to make sure my children are home safe and sound. I don’t have to clean boy-pee off the bathroom floor
I spend many a night sleeping on the futon in the living room. Because I can. Because I can see the stars. Because I can watch the sunrise without lifting my head off the pillow.
I spend more time in the neighboring towns.
I spend a lot more time outside, wandering. Not feeding chickens.
I have a chamber pot.
I sleep with the window open.
Skulls, plants, rocks, adorn every surface.
I no longer have a gun safe in my bedroom.
Come on back liberal hippie self, I’ve missed you.
THERE ARE NO MORE CHEW SPIT CUPS IN MY BEDROOM, LIVING ROOM, DINING ROOM, KITCHEN, BATHROOM, CAR, PATIO, GARAGE, HENHOUSE.
I find myself drawn to the Loungewear section at TJ Maxx.
Yesterday I did NOT purchase a cashmere nightgown. I stood in the dressing room imagining myself wearing it every single day as soon as I got home from work, all day on weekends, hosting brunch in it…
Whoa, Suz, have some pride.
So, besides the unfortunate attraction to matching pajamas, this living alone business, after living with so many others for so many years, is fantastic.
I’m even entertaining tomorrow.