Seperate Lives

In a bid to reclaim my life and my sanity, I have spent most of my weekend doing nothing. To make matters interesting…I did a whole lot of nothing alone. But for a mere four hours at a friend`s birthday party, I was the lone princess. The simple enjoyment of my own company had me thinking of a time when I was almost never alone (and to be really honest, I didn`t know any better). My partner and I kept separate homes, but very co-dependant lives. It got to the point where the discussion over living arrangements and the need to hold onto two homes became a matter of huge debate. Although we never moved in together, we spent most of our time in each other`s space.

The ensuing panic-attack when we went our separate ways was almost sad. I realised that somehow I didn`t know how to be alone and enjoy lone pleasures. I was not really comfortable communing with, well…me. Three years later it seems laughable because I am now very adept at living on my own and doing simple things like catching a movie or having a bite to eat solo. I am extremely comfortable in my own space, having discovered that there is a certain sweetness in spending time with your own thoughts, puttering around the house and doing whatever you feel like doing.

However, this wonderful freedom has a terrible dark side too *grin*

Like most singletons I have become selfish. And with this selfishness came a certain confidence and surety…and I know that this can be a terrible thing down the line. How do I let someone back into my space and make him feel comfortable and welcome, when the very idea of sharing makes me break out in hives.

You see, these are the things I know for sure: I can`t abide any form of Marmite or Redro in my house and can spend a whole day not saying a single word to anybody not to my dogs, not to myself. All I need is a book or a space where I can write. I prefer many flavoured teas to coffee and won`t compromise on milk. It`s full cream…you don`t get 2% cows. Sometimes I get up with bad hair days and an even worse mood and very few people can really say they`ve been able to handle me in the morning (the point is to ignore me until I`m ready to reciprocate conversation and / or affection. Very tricky…). I wear whatever I like and if today I`m wearing my pink wellingtons with cut-off denims it`s best not to comment on the look, unless you mean it favourably. I do know for sure that I cannot be alone forever. That, even for me, is strange. But to find that wonderful balance…

And so I’ve determined: I keep my place, he can keep his. We can do this forever, right? Until that day when we feel ready. I value solitude as much as a value having a partner who is around not only when I need him, but also when he needs me. I am realistic about my need …no…my desire for companionship and shared intimacy. But silence is transcendent. There is no one watching tele at top volume or leaving socks on floors. No one dictates what time I eat or peeks through a door to catch me in the ungainly act of some female grooming ritual; no deliciously warm and tantalising body that lures me back into bed when the alarm goes off at 4 am and I should be working.

Unless I want it that way.

The ex and I worked well together in that sense. We had similar interests and could spend a whole day in comfortable silence or not. We would debate, read, drift into silence, watch wrestling (hey, everyone`s got a dirty secret. I had a thing for The Rock), cook and affectionately alternate between not getting enough of each other and ignoring each other.

He didn`t mind when I wanted to mooch around in a T-shirt all day, hair in an untidy ponytail. Sunday afternoon`s were awesome…he`d give me a pedicure while we watched movies. Small, insignificant acts of a couple comfortable sharing spaces.

There were good reasons to advocate separate spaces – including the romance: A date was still a date. I still went through the ritual of preparing for a date, which in my mind has always been important. When he arrives I look great; he looks great and my heart still stops for a second. Kissing, talking and touching is different. We spend time with one another because we want to.

Intrinsic to this was trust. There was no resentment, no waiting for him to show up when he’s been out late, and no annoyance on his part that he has to come home because I keep wondering where he is. It was and is the purest form of shared life that I can imagine: he has his life. I have my life. We have our life. All three are whole and rewardingly complete.

Yes, some would argue that living with others is healthy, adaptive: you are forced to learn to compromise, to be tolerant, to share. And I will. And I have. However, having regressed to being selfish again I have also become picky. And that is a very good thing. I can eventually choose who I want to compromise for and share my time and space with. And that`s what independence is about, right? …a choice. A sense of free will.

And until I find that person, there is still someone important with whom to share the simple daily pleasures: myself. Last week I bought myself two large bouquets of purple roses. Today I think I’ll go and get some sunflowers, and spread them all around my home, wherever my heart desires.

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