There are many benefits to living alone. Everything remains in the same place where you left it. There is no one to eat your food. You can play music when you want to. You can go to bed when you want to. You can pretty much do anything when you want to. There is no need to coordinate schedules for the shower. If you don’t feel like cooking, it’s okay to have cereal for dinner. Or ice cream.
Despite all of the freedom, living alone isn’t exactly idyllic. After a long day at work, there is no one to go home to and confide in. No one knows if you make it home at night. Receiving a hug is no longer a daily occurrence. Coming home to a bunch of furniture and artwork isn’t exactly comforting and conversational. The delight and fellowship derived from preparing and enjoying meals fades quickly when cooking for one. When a bat flies in your apartment, Daddy isn’t there to save the day – and yes, I do I know this one from experience!
This past week, I have been house-sitting/dog-sitting, and it’s given me a bit of perspective. The home-owner’s aged parents are still at the house in an attached apartment. This sweet couple fills their days with doctor appointments, trips to the pharmacy and occasional outings for a Wendy’s Frosty. Given their presence, I’ve come to conclude that my being at the house isn’t quite necessary while the rest of the family is away, but instead is to provide peace of mind. Each day as I arrive from work, a sweet golden retriever greets me at the door. His eagerness and excitement to see that I am home is quite endearing. As I enter, my housemates for the week inquire about my day. These conversations turn into story-sharing sessions, times of laughter and glimpses of the stories which shape the people we have come to be. I have been struck this week how much I miss this sort of interaction – consistent, familial, genuine contact. Upon my arrival yesterday, Louise joked about giving me a curfew because I was out a bit late the night before. She knows when I come and when I go. She is a witness to my life.
There’s a line in a movie that stuck with me, affirming the inherent need in our lives for community and relationships. While I wouldn’t highly recommend the film (unless you would like to hear an excellent Peter Gabriel song that is only available if you buy the entire lackluster soundtrack), this idea is one that I hope to offer and to receive:
We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet…I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things…all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying, “Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.”
Shall We Dance?
A witness is someone who by personal presence and perception has seen, heard and known particular events and occurrences. A witness provides knowledge, bears testimony and provides affirmation. We are to be witnesses to each other. It’s tough to do that when you live alone. But at least I can have ice cream for dinner.