In April 2009 my son left home for the Navy. At the time I had a boarder who would come and go between house sitting jobs until he finally moved out in October. I was fifty-one years and two months old and for the very first time I lived alone, well except for the dog, two cats and cockatiel.
It was disconcerting in the beginning. It’s a reasonable size house so I had a lot of space to myself. I spent a lot of time at friends. After two teenagers I missed the noise. Even when my son slept – there was noise because he would have his radio on. Just enough so I could hear that there was noise.
I grew up in a city where there was always noise; cars, neighbours on the other side of the walls, someone’s radio or TV.
Small towns are still noisy, but it’s a different type of noise. There is the odd kid who screams down our street trying to be a boy racer, but we’re more likely to hear a horse racing along, or the tuis calling to each other in the trees.
I live on the edge of town, where there are still a few paddocks left and the river hits the inner harbour at the end of my street. Now that the house is a lot quieter I appreciate those sounds more.
I still visit friends and they call in here for a chat and a coffee. The dog takes me walking most days, along the river.
Somewhere in that time, the compulsion for company, for the noise of others has disappeared. My deck has become a favoured place, especially this summer.
I’ve lived in New Zealand, in this town, for eighteen years now and I’ve never known a summer like it. Land of the Long White Cloud my arse.
It was with dread that I imagined living alone as the time got closer for it to happen. How would I handle the loneliness? Being alone is not the same as loneliness though.
The last years of my marriage were the loneliest time in my life. And the first few as a solo mother were pretty lonely, even with the children.
So why am I not lonely now? It became obvious to me a few months ago.
The sink was clogged and the kitchen floor was covered with everything I had hauled out of the cupboard. Towels were lying around everywhere ready for any mess, and wrench in hand I was on the floor pulling the s-bend apart.
That is a lot more dangerous than it sounds – thankfully ALL inhabitants of the house survived the experience !!!
The demented fox terrier was licking my feet when the youngest cat thought it might be a good time to spring down on to my belly and start kneading it into a pillow. I heard a sound that pulled me up.
Me. I was laughing. Not that I don’t like to laugh – I do. I laugh a lot I think, around others. But it was apparent I was enjoying myself, by myself.
Why didn’t I laugh when I was on my own before? There was the odd chuckle at something, but this was belly rolling laughter.
Enough that the cat left in disgust.
It’s happening a lot these days. I don’t think the neighbours will call for help for the crazy lady – they’re used to me being a bit odd. I can hear them thinking, she was born in Australia, poor woman.
It’s simple – I enjoy my own company. I like me. Most of me anyway, except for my boobs. I used to be so proud of them. Now I have to be careful when I am getting dressed that I don’t accidently tuck them into my jeans.
When I find the IDIOT who thought up gravity…
I’ve noticed I dance alone too. It seems to go with the laughter. That’s not as mad as it sounds. Really.