“Most people wouldn’t understand why we do this,” I said to two friends one day as we were shopping.
“Spend four hours buying food?” Jamie asked. We laughed. We already had been to the farmers market, a coffee shop, and two grocery stores.
“No, run errands together,” I said. “Most married people, especially if they have kids, wouldn’t get together with friends and go to the grocery store. And I don’t think they would understand why we do it.”
I wondered about it myself. Why is it that many Saturdays I find myself in the car driving around town with these or other single friends who live alone like I do, picking up a gift at a department store, doing the week’s shopping, or depositing a check at the credit union?
Recent census figures indicate that 28 percent of all American households, and as many as 50 percent in large metropolitan areas, now are made up of just one member. That’s 31 million of us using our dryers as a dresser, eating peanut butter out of the jar with our fingers, or leaving the door open when we are in the bathroom.
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Today, I am writing at theHighCalling.org as part of the Everything Matters series, considering "Living Alone as a Cultural Act." Follow the link to join me over there.
Here is the story behind the story that prompted me to want to write about living alone when I first heard about the growing number of "singletons" in America.
Living alone certainly does foster some quirkiness in my home life.
On a recent weeknight, I came home after a difficult day on the job and a vigorous workout at the gym. Though the sun hadn’t set and I wouldn’t be going to bed for hours, I put on my pajamas and my “house” sweater that I wear only at home. Grabbing a handful of cashews and a rice cake, I sat down at the dining room table to do some editing on my laptop.
When my younger sister arrived at the house a few minutes after me, I was embarrassed. I usually do a pretty good job of hiding my antisocial behavior – at least I think I do. But my sister had been staying with me for a few weeks while she finished an internship, and I had let my guard down. After living alone for so long, I have developed a few, er, eccentric habits.
In a recent New York Times article, Steven Kurutz chronicles some of oddities that develop from a life lived alone. From indulgent work styles to intriguing dietary choices, Kurutz reveals the secret lives of the singletons he interviewed for “One Is the Quirkiest Number: The Freedom, and Perils, of Living Alone.”
But it’s not just the relaxed sense of self that many of us have at home. According to Kurutz, living alone accentuates the duplicity. “What emerges over time, for those who live alone, is an at-home self that is markedly different — in ways big and small — from the self they present to the world. We all have private selves, of course, but people who live alone spend a good deal more time exploring them,” Kurutz said.