Tracey just asked the most interesting question on her blog and my response was going to be far too long to put in a comment, so here goes.
Actually, she asked three questions.
Have you ever lived alone? No.
Have you never lived alone? Yes.
Do you think it’s made a difference in your life? Yes.
I moved out of home and straight into an apartment with a friend. A year or so after that, I moved in with PJ and he’s been my roommate ever since. There’s always been somebody else to help me with the grocery shopping and to remind me not to leave my undies on the bathroom floor. There’s always been somebody else to cook for, or to come home to, or to frighten with my scary morning-hair. I’m a herd animal; I’m better when there are others around. I think I would have been bored to live alone, and would have been constantly inviting people to come over for dinner, just so I didn’t have to be by myself.
So yes, I think that NOT living alone has made it impossible for me to consider such a scenario. It would be wierd. However, I would like to have my own room. We’ve found a house to move into, and it has a small room that will by My Room. I don’t have to share it with PJ – he’ll have his own office. It’s a long way from the noisier parts of the house and nobody will go past my room to get to the toilet or to their bedroom. It has a big window that overlooks the garden. I’m going to have a desk and a day bed and a shelf for my favourite books and things. And I’m going to have an enormous Vision Board, complete with pictures torn from magazines of things that will help me finish my gosh darn novel, goshdarnit. Because I really want to finish it. I really want to see how it ends.
I don’t regret not ever living alone, but I do think that everyone should have their own room. Even if it’s just a little one, you should have your own space that has a door on it so you can be in there and alone with your thoughts and your things (men get sheds; women should also get she’ds). Yes, it’s a luxury, and it’s not always possible, but from now on I am going to insist on it.
Correction: This is awkward…. I just credited the new purple mug to my friend Sophie, when in fact it came from Penny, Nina, Helen and Karen. This is what happens when you have 25 people in your living room for half an hour before the party bus leaves and you are opening all the wonderful presents! The green mug is from Sophie, and now it shares the shelf with my new Penguin Books mug. Two mugs that remind me to believe in myself… and to be thankful for wonderful friends. When I unwrapped the present and saw “A Room of Ones Own” I couldn’t help smiling at the coincidence of it, because we’d just found the house that week.
UPDATE: Kathy mentioned my trip to New York. I went to New York in 2004 by myself, for ten days. Kathy and another friend came to stay for a couple of those days but the rest of the time I was on my own, until the 11th day when I went to North Carolina to stay with Cristina. In 2010 I went to Bangkok and then Oslo by myself. I was gone for three weeks, but when I was in Oslo I spent time with an old school friend and Cristina, and then saw other friends during a quick side-trip to Sweden.
I did enjoy travelling by myself, but I also wished quite often that I had some company, and I was glad when Kathy showed up in New York and when Rod, then Cristina, met me in Oslo. I just like having someone to chat with, a familiar face, someone to talk about stuff with and to help me decide what to do next. Especially when I’m travelling I can feel overwhelmed with new places and things to see. Maybe I’ll travel alone a bit more often once the kids have left home, but it’s more likely that PJ and I will go somewhere together, and we’ll take half-day trips by ourselves to see things the other isn’t interested in, as much as to have some time alone. I’m sure I could manage without him… but given the choice, I’d much, MUCH rather have him along for the ride. In fact, I’m sure that’s how it will be – him and me, seeing the world, doing stuff together. Happiness is only real when shared.
I sometimes think about what might have been, if I hadn’t taken the path of least resistance and stayed here in Canberra. I might have gone overseas or moved to Melbourne to study or done a thousand other things. I might have lived by myself in a little flat above a delicatessan in downtown Manhattan (I used to think that would be a fantastic place to live… above a deli in New York!) But these are the choices I’ve made, from the options that were available to me (and to PJ) and I can’t imagine being more happy.
(sorry Kathy… we’ll get a room)
Wow. This got a whole lot more introspective than I thought it would. Thanks Tracey!