what is it like to live by oneself?
I can no longer remember, or if I ever
truly did. Surely it can’t have been
in the short month intervening after I
graduated from college and then got married,
believing that was the only way I might
finally make a life, something of my own.
Neither can it have been in the years
I went to graduate school, the first time
after my second child was born; and then again
when my third child turned three— Roommates
down the hall sharing the bathroom,
sharing the fridge and kitchen (though also
cleaning duties). And at home, with growing
children and extended family, never any
door that one could keep closed for too long.
I didn’t really mind, but also welcomed
summers when I could slip away by myself
to visit a friend, go to a writing retreat,
work free of the coils of schedules and
routines for two short weeks. Oh the joys
of breakfast at 11 and bedtime at 3, a walk
with no other purpose than the walk itself.
On the other hand, my pathologist friend
in Chicago, who’d lived by himself for over
thirty years, sometimes told me how he wished
for human sounds in the middle of the night,
in the empty bedrooms of his tastefully
furnished flat— how he’d scan the trees
bereft of birds and their call and response,
how sometimes he’d flush the toilet in the guest
bathroom at random times of day, just to hear
the water gurgling before eddying away.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.