What I’ve Learned From Living Alone

This post is part of The 30 in my 30’s List.

I recently did some grocery shopping. It was a pretty epic trip, and by the end of it my cart was bursting with enough ingredients, snacks, fruits, and veggies to last me a couple weeks. I was on my way to the check out when an older man walked past me, noticed my cart and commented (not quietly, in what sounded like a German accent), “oooo, big family.”

Nope, buddy. Not even close. I actually live alone, not even a roommate to speak of.

I smiled curtly, and chuckled a little to myself, but didn’t respond. He had a point; it was a lot of food, and much more than I’d normally buy at once. My cupboards and fridge were bare at that moment, plus I was having surgery to repair a hernia (which turned out to be three hernias) later that week and wanted to be prepared.

The whole ordeal got me really thinking about my current living arrangement and I couldn’t help but smile as I put my groceries away later. Quite simply, I love living alone.

It happened a few months ago, on November 1, 2013. It had snowed waaay too much overnight for my liking, but, with the help of couple strapping young men, we trudged through the snow, packed my life into a UHaul, and moved it all into a tiny one bedroom apartment at the Vail Racquet Club.

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After they left me, I stood amongst the boxes and reveled. After 31 years of sharing a living space with parents, siblings, cats & dogs, best friends, and random strangers, I had a place all my own. I was home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had many wonderful moments living with friends and family (and some not so wonderful moments living with strangers), but I’d been craving my own place for years. And part of me thought it would never happen, at least not while I called Vail – land of the bank-busting rent – home. But thanks to a significant pay raise and a bit of serendipity, it had happened.

I’m one of those people who loves being alone, who likes things exactly the way I like them. I love the simple joys of knowing the house will look the exact same way it did when I left it, of claiming ALL the cupboard space, watching whatever I want on TV, and leaving the bathroom door open when I shower so it never gets too steamy.

Living alone has taught me, though, that as much as I’m content to be on my own, I need other people. And not only that I need them, but that I also have to make a conscious effort to cultivate and maintain my relationships. These are simple but important truths and I am fortunate to know them.

I’ve also learned that, no matter how many groceries I buy, there’s no substitute for having people in my life who will text my mom for me when I wake up after surgery, drive me home, bring me saltines, and take shifts hanging out with me in my tiny apartment so that I’m not alone for a single moment during those first 24 hours post-surgery.

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