“Reflections on Living Alone,” by guest writer Holly Wilson — Who but You? living alone series

Me, with the Gila National Forest off in the distance.  New Mexico.  Photo credit:  P. H.
On a road trip with my best friend, with the Gila National Forest off in the distance.  New Mexico.  Photo credit:  P. H. 

Am I lonely or am I free?  Am I selfish or am I in a situation in which I can give more than I could otherwise?  Am I living a full life or am I missing out on a whole big part of life? These are some of the questions I have asked myself when thinking about how living alone has affected my life.

Since I moved out of my parents’ house in 1971, I have had roommates and been married, but overall, I have lived most of my life alone.  For the most part, it has been a choice and not a result of circumstances.

Living alone, and being single, and also not being a parent, are all conflated in my life.  Not having a partner to share my life with is one way that I am alone.  Not having any children is another way I am alone.  And I also live alone.

Why did I start living alone?

I like to have control over how I live.  I like to be independent, take care of myself, and not have to rely on anyone else to pay for what I need.  I might be up at odd hours, making noise.  I might want to beat on my drum in the middle of the night.

At the Plandemonium Poetry Retreat in Potrero Canyon, New Mexico.  2013.  Photo credit:  ka
At the Plandemonium Poetry Retreat in Potrero Canyon, New Mexico.  2013.  Photo credit:  ka

What do I like about living alone?

  • I don’t have to shut the door when I go to the bathroom.
  • I can run around naked in the house.
  • I can put on NPR on all my radios and listen to my programs as I move around the house.  I also leave the radio on all night and often wake up at odd hours to listen to it.
  • I work at home, so I set my own schedule.  Since I live alone, I work all different kinds of hours, sometimes very late at night, or very early in the morning.
  • I have a lot of time to contemplate, think about what I want to do, think about who I am.
  • I have a lot of time to work on my personal projects, like writing poetry and working in the garden.
  • I can do a lot of things that I want to do, whenever I want to do them, like travel, go out, visit with my friends.

What don’t I like about living alone?

  • I hate eating alone and usually end up eating in front of the television so I have someone to look at.  I think we digest our food better when we eat with someone and share a good conversation while we are eating.  I love cooking for other people and sharing my food with them, and I miss this by living alone.
  • I have to wait until I can get friends over to move something I can’t move myself.  While I am free in many ways, I cannot do everything by myself.  There is no one in my home to help me.
  • While it is true that I can talk to my friends about life decisions, most of my decisions I make on my own.
  • Living alone has made me less disciplined than I might otherwise be.  I don’t always wash all the dishes after I eat, but usually do them the next morning.  I don’t always put my clothes away after I wash them.  I don’t always make my bed.  I eat at irregular hours, or don’t eat at all.
  • I miss not hugging people more often and feeling the human touch that I might feel if I had a husband and children.  I can go the whole day without touching someone.
  • Some days I spend hours without talking to anyone.  The silence is very lonely.  I have no one with whom to share what I am thinking or doing.

What do I do to overcome the problems of being alone?

I don’t live all alone.  I actually have a bunch of animals:  two dogs and four cats right now, and some hens and roosters outside in chicken coops.  If it weren’t for them, I would have no one to talk to or touch.  But of course, they don’t say much.  I also ground myself by working in my garden.

Every once and awhile I have a party, celebration, gathering, so my house is filled with the sound of people talking and laughing, and enjoying good food.  I get some of the hugs I need at these events.  I also go out about once a week to be around people and get some more hugs.

Every choice we make in life sends us in another direction.

Every decision we make about what we are going to do means that we go down one path and do not go down other paths.  I have chosen to live alone, so I enjoy the advantages of being alone, and I suffer the disadvantages.  If I had chosen another way to live, I would be enjoying other advantages and suffering other disadvantages.  I am for the most part, happy, and I am going to continue to make the advantages of my lifestyle work for me.

Holly Wilson
May 2015

Holly Wilson was born in Massachusetts, and moved to New Mexico in 1971 to attend the University of New Mexico because she wanted to major in Spanish.  She eventually graduated with a BA in Linguistics and Spanish, and later an MA in Linguistics, and finally, a PhD in Educational Linguistics.  She is currently a professor of teachers who want to teach English as a second language, teaching for an online university.

Holly has been writing poetry since high school and was active in the Albuquerque poetry scene during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Then she moved to California, where she was not involved much with poetry.  She moved back to the Albuquerque area in 2012, where she found a very active poetry scene, started reading at open mikes, and began writing new poetry.  She is now half of the Beatlick Sisters, along with Pamela Hirst, enjoying multimedia performance poetry.

Me in my garden, 2013, when I lived in Los Lunas, New Mexico.  Photo credit:  M.R.
Me in my garden, 2013, when I lived in Los Lunas, New Mexico.  Photo credit:  M.R.
The other half of the Beatlick Sisters:  Pamela Hirst, with her bus in front of our friend John's home.  Corrales, New Mexico.  Photo credit:  ka
The other half of the Beatlick Sisters:  Pamela Hirst, with her bus in front of a friend’s home in Corrales, New Mexico.  Photo credit:  ka

This is part of the Who but You? living alone series.  Check out the other posts!  They are published every Monday.

Join the Who but You? project:  e-mail your story, prose, poetry, art and/or photos about living alone to powerofpaperzines@gmail.com for consideration. All ages, all countries/cities, all solo living situations – from temporary & despised, to permanent & treasured – would be appreciated. In addition to your story/art, please include:

  • a brief Bio with an associated profile photo (this may be an actual photo of you, or a more anonymous photo of something you believe represents you as a person)
  • 1–4 photos additional photos with photo credits
  • your fake (pen) name or real name

For more information:  https://whobutyouproject.wordpress.com/who-but-you-series/.

❤ Thank you for taking the time to view the works of independent storytellers, poets and artists. ❤

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