Discoveries While Living Alone

Discoveries While Living Alone

I’ve said earlier that I love living alone, and that’s still true. Despite being happy living in my own dwelling with nothing but sometimes barfy dogs to keep me company, after several months of single apartment life I’ve discovered a few things.

My relationship with cleaning has changed. Previously, I’ve been the kind of person who has a pretty high standard of living in fifth. Days and days would go by with the same dishes in the sink, and I’d pass by them like “meh”. Laundry? Eh, you can wear jeans multiple days in a row so that’s fine. I legitimately didn’t mop a floor until I turned 30, and that is not an elaboration. All of that would build up around me until one day I looked around my house in horror and would turn to Tim with wild eyes and say, “WE LOOK LIKE WE ARE LIVING IN AN EPISODE OF HOARDERS LET’S CLEAN LIKE WE’VE NEVER CLEANED BEFORE!”

And then after another period of procrastination, the two of us would clean the house until it represented a respectable dwelling again.

Now that’s it’s just me, I oddly take more pride in my apartment. I’m not sure if this is a sign of my widowhood or just maturity finally catching up with me, but I’ll take it. Just because I’m better about cleaning doesn’t mean I’m ready for Southern Living to feature my place. I find myself skipping less desirable tasks because there’s no one else around to complain about them. While I’ll keep the floors pretty tidy, clutter abounds over the kitchen island. Dining table? That’s the “I should really take this to GoodWill sometime this year” storage center.

I clean the bathroom regularly, but am learning things about myself that I wished I wouldn’t. Any woman who’s lived with a man, whether it be roommate or significant other, has cleaned the toilet at least once in her life and thought, “Men are disgusting!”

Do you know what happens when you live by yourself and clean the toilet? You realize that yes, your beautiful feminine hynnie is also disgusting. Nobody shits flowers folks – not even single white females. Scrub a dub dub, it’s a tough world out there.

My dining room table isn’t the only piece of furniture that serves double duty in my apartment. The coffee table doubles as a sort of open face wardrobe. Sure, I could put my clothes in drawers or hang them in the closet orrrrr I can lay them out in neat stacks like an outfit buffet. Bonus points for giving me a cushy place to rest my feet while watching television.

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Also there’s basically never a reason to wear pants after 7pm.

Of course, living alone does lend itself to loneliness. Despite not hating my new life in these walls, there are certainly lots of little things I miss.

I miss having Tim slowly walk up behind me while I wash the dishes and sing to myself. No matter what the song or how badly I was performing with a dish rag and cleaner, he would always say with a soft smile, “I like it when you sing.”

At night I’ve never been a cuddler, and feel claustrophobic if someone is too close to me while I’m trying to sleep… as if they’re going to steal all the oxygen out of the room. So I sleep the same as I did when I was married to him, curled up in a cocoon of covers clutching a pillow. What I miss is waking up in the morning, and reaching out to my left before I even opened my eyes. Feeling his broad shoulder rise and fall with his even snores and the closely cropped, soft hairs on the back of his head. I miss that.

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When I have a free evening at home, I spend a lot of time sitting on my back porch. My dogs will  sniff through the dark, damp grass or lay down near my feet to chew a bone. Occasionally you can hear the coyotes in the fields behind my apartment, excitedly yip as they chase down and eventually kill the rabbits that surround the complex. When that happens, Eliot will stick his cropped tail straight up in the air and prance around the perimeter. He’ll lift his nose up to the dark sky and howl at the coyotes in the distance.

In the mix of quiet and barking and cars driving past, I do a lot of writing in the dark. It’s the kind of me time that I had a lot of before I met Tim, listening and writing and thinking. I liked that part of myself back then, and I like it still now.

During those moments on my back porch, being alone almost feels like a choice. Alone because I’m doing something important instead of simply having been robbed of my life.

18 thoughts on “Discoveries While Living Alone

  1. Love this! I used to write a lot more before I was married… now, living with my husband, there is not the same kind of secure privacy I had when I lived with my parents. I can’t go into my bedroom and shut the door and expect to be left in perfect peace for hours on end, alone with my thoughts, without him popping in and asking what I’m doing, or what I’m working on, etc. Being alone is a special thing. 🙂

    1. Having true “alone” moments was one of the hardest adjustments for me when I first moved in with Tim. Obviously we grew to figure each other out and living together, but there’s no replacement for that time.

  2. You and I must share the same maturity level bc it wasn’t until I lived alone that I realized I NEEDED to clean. LOL. Growing up, I left my room looking like a tornado had come through it at least once a week. Now, I keep a clean house because I don’t want someone showing up unexpectedly and seeing it messy (which happens every time my house is a wreck).

    It’s funny how we change and don’t do the things we use to, or want to , or whatever when we live with someone. I’ve come to realize I could never live with someone full time which is why having a Fireman as my spouse works so well. He’s gone every other day which means plenty of quiet time in the house and me getting stuff done that I wouldn’t do if he was home. 🙂

    1. Seriously, the BEST way to assure my house is spotless is for me to have someone over. I certainly can’t have someone know that I live in less than perfect cleanliness… oh wait, this post kind of busted that.

  3. i pretty much adore living alone, and also definitely relate to the pile of stuff that should probably go to goodwill at some point this year…

  4. Living alone is strangely empowering, even if it is thrust upon you unexpectedly. In the beginning time of it all, it feels like a punishment but as time wanes on you realize. I was here, I survived, I can care for myself.

  5. So many things I love in this post. You are so good at painting a picture in our heads… I can picture the soapy dishes, the rag, the singing, and Tim’s quiet smile. And then I can picture your evenings on the back porch, and the howling dogs and the cars, and you sitting and thinking and writing in the fading light. So lovely Lauren.

  6. I love living alone! Having quiet time whenever I want is so nice. But I find that I’m a little less clean than when I was living with my ex (and roommates). Leave the dishes in the sink? No one here to use the sink but me so I’m the only one that suffers. My ex was super clean so I did my best to keep our house really clean. I really like a clean house, but I definitely need to be motivated to keep it clean by outside forces.

  7. I have something similar to the coffee table buffet- in my bedroom I got those cube shelves from Target so I can see all of my riding and workout clothes! That way I can CLEARLY see that I do not need another pair of breeches.

  8. Buying my own place and loving alone worried me at first as i was afraid I’d get lost in my head alone all the time. However I needn’t have worried, I’ve always been happy in my own company or with others and adjust accordingly.
    Not hooking my place up with Internet yet & not have tv stations to watch has freed up a lot more reading time, time for puzzles and when I buy pencils and some of your awesome adult colouring pages I can tackle those too ☺

    I do try to be neat, but some weekends cleaning doesn’t happen because #lazy

  9. (1) I love your ribbons jars. A lot.
    (2) Um, yes, totally agreed about pants!! It was a liberating day when I realized that I did not require pants to feed the horses. Not saying I’m prancing about like a nudie feeder, just that I could… 😉
    (3) Meh, no one sees my bathroom but me. Also, can you come clean my bathroom? XD

    (4) It got really hard to read after that. So a hug (salute seems NQR) to you for writing it. It’s when my brain sneaks into the things that I miss that the storm whips up all over again. What a constant struggle for balance between gratitude for what you were given, aching grief for what was taken, annoying knowledge that everything has an end, & insistence that none of us ever seem to get enough time.

    I sit on my front porch a lot too — something very therapeutic about just listening to the sound of…everything just BEING. You captured it all, lovely.

    Oh, and I am now renaming the “mountain of clean clothes I can’t be bothered to put away because I’ll just be taking them back out again” as the “Grand Outfit Buffet.” Thank you!

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