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Living alone has some advantages and some disadvantages. The disadvantages are the loneliness and having to be the only one around to put out the garbage. It helps to have a cat or dog, and there is the fact that a one person household creates a lot less garbage to be put out.
The upside is not having to keep a routine that affects anyone other than yourself. The battle is to preserve some semblance of normalcy. If you’re a person who is most comfortable living a disciplined, scheduled life, that’s not too hard. If you’ve always marched to your own drummer, it’s more difficult. If you’re co-caption of a family team with dependent children, you have a definite role to play with clearly defined chores, responsibilities, and hours. I fall somewhere in between.
If you’re unfortunate enough to be the only one at the helm, you have to carry whole productions on your shoulders – to mix a metaphor. Either way, it’s a heck of a lot of work and worry.
The hardest thing to do is make the adjustment to living without being responsible for and accountable to someone else. This takes some time and getting used to.
Slowly, but surely, the advantages of solo living become obvious. The flexibility of time, for example. You get up in the morning when you have to. This can be when you go to work, if you do, or when someone calls on the phone or knocks on the door. Without interruptions you can stay in bed as long as you like.
You can stay up at night until any old time. For me, the earliest bed time is 11:30 PM, and I if feel like it I can get up again at 2 or 3 AM and read, do crossword puzzles, or watch old movies on TV. I sometimes turn the whole day and night upside down; staying up until 4 or 5 AM, going to bed and sleeping until 1 or 2 in the afternoon.
I usually make my bed once I’m really out of it. After a lifetime of never going to bed with unwashed dishes, I sometimes leave the dishpan full until the next day. Heavy housework I do as my joints dictate, so the dust can get ahead of me. The laundry, a two loads a day affair for years, is now done whenever there’s a real need. If you buy ten sets of underwear you can wash every ten days.
The most difficult adjustment for me has been dealing with food. Cooking for one has been hard for me to learn. I’m still not good at it. Who the heck can peal and mash one potato, cook a 2 pound roast, or one chicken breast? I imagine there are many people who manage to do it, but not I. Fortunately, I’ve always enjoyed leftovers.
Shopping is another matter that still throws me. I see people in shops with a carrying basket with small items – you know – one chop, one steak, two apples, a quart of juice, small loaf of bread. They obviously live alone and I grit my teeth as I ride along with a cart filled with enough stuff for a mess hall. Oh well, I tell myself, you shop once a month, which is true, but I could feed a regiment for a month.
Lately the food scene in my place has become really difficult to manage. For reasons of my health and my conscience, I’ve stopped eating meat and most fish. This is not a hardship for anyone who eats vegetables, grains, and substitutes. It wouldn’t be a hardship for me either, if I had a normal digestive system. The list of “cannot eat” is as long as my arm and includes every vegetable except string beans and beets, only cooked fruits, no whole grains, etc.
I was stumped doing my first vegetarian shopping. I would gladly live on veggies and salads if I could. When I finished shopping, my daughter said it looked as if I were going to live on cup-a-tomato soup and ice cream (no sugar added).
It’s a good thing I live alone.
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