A new book, called Going Solo, by Eric Klinenberg is getting written up, as in today's Times Style Section. I've read other articles on the phenomenon lately. Sociologists are noticing that a high percentage of people currently live alone, young and old -- as might be expected -- and a higher than previous percentage of people in the middle years when the expected status is marriage and family. Over half the apartments in NYC are single apartments. Something I read about elders/seniors, whatever you want to call us, said over 65% of women over 65 years of age live alone. Today's article says 277 million Americans live alone.
Formerly such numbers would draw sighs of pity from the majority. No doubt many of those people would prefer to be living with a loving, congenial companion or mate. I think many share my feeling of comfort being alone. I have lived alone about half my life, and I very much like feeling free to do what I want to do when I want to do it. When I am with someone I can never forget their presence and get totally into what I want to do. I know many people can ignore others around them but something in my mind is always aware and, after a while, I miss the sense of freedom from being alone. In those middle years when I had been part of a couple and ceased to be I learned to go to events and gatherings alone. I overcame the sense that others would wonder why I was alone, I learned to go into restaurants alone and enjoy a dinner by myself. And I learned to travel alone -- but found that I preferred to be alone in groups which is possible and is exactly right for me.
To have lived alone for some period of time, I think, is an important part of learning who one is. Those who have always been part of a family or at least a couple, often seem to lack knowledge of their own strengths and sometimes their own opinions. I think of primitive rituals when young people had to spend a few days alone before being promoted by the tribe from childhood to adulthood. I believe there was wisdom in such a practice. And I think many young people undertake a period alone after their education because something in the psyche needs to be tested. Especially for older people there are negatives about living alone, fears of fall or a stroke cross our minds. Of course I know about the alarm pendants that many people buy and most don't use. I'm not at that point, I'm fully independent and intend to remain that way for quite a long time in the future.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!