Thursday, March 5, 2015

On living alone

Have you ever lived alone?

If so, what was your experience like? Did you enjoy it? Was it lonely or did you like being alone? 

I started listening to this great podcast called Death, Sex & Money and there's an episode about living alone that got me thinking about my 20s in Los Angeles.

I was 23 when I moved from Berkeley to Los Angeles. I was fresh out of college and starting my first job in the "real world." I was thrilled about starting my career, making my own money and having my very own place. I was lucky to find an affordable one-bedroom apartment that also happened to be charming and clean.

Oh my, how I loved that apartment.

There are perks to living alone: decorating every room exactly the way you want; eating whatever you want whenever you want and letting the dishes pile up (or in my case, indulging my inner neat freak). But the best part of living alone was cranking up the gangsta rap REALLY LOUD on my stereo and dancing in my underwear.

Like many 20-somethings I loved going out. My girlfriends and I would often spend Friday nights at clubs or shows, Saturdays shopping and exploring LA, and Sundays meeting for brunch. But even for an extrovert, I was thankful to have a space where I could decompress. It was quiet inside my apartment (when I wasn't playing the gansta rap). I savored the silence. I also learned something important about myself: I really enjoy being alone.

A few years later, to be closer to a new job, I moved to a less affordable part of town and shared an apartment with a roommate. Then I went to grad school (two roommates), moved back in with my parents (to save up for my wedding), got married and had kids. 

Something about motherhood that's always been difficult for me to reconcile is the fact that you're never alone. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids. But wanting alone time is pretty normal when you've got little ones making demands and needing attention and crawling all over you (even your body is not your own anymore). It's why you always see moms drinking copious amounts of coffee or clutching a bottle of wine. That latté or glass of merlot can really give a person head space.

Virginia Woolf was really on to something when she said a woman must have money and a room of her own. Though she was referring to writing fiction and having a career -- and ultimately establishing a legacy -- I think you can apply the same thinking to motherhood. Give a mother some "alone time" (a quiet bath, a manicure, a solo excursion to Target-- you get the idea) and you've got one happy woman.          

Click here to listen to the Death, Sex & Money episode, "Living Alone and Liking It. Sometimes."     

Bedroom in Arles by Vincent Van Gogh (c. Sept 1889)