King of the castle

Just thinking about it earlier today, I came to the somewhat surprising realisation that I have never lived alone.

From as early as I can remember I shared a room with my brother, who was (and still is) eleven years my senior. My main memory from that period is of sitting on my bed trying to read while he blasted Earth Wind and Fire records at me. He joined the army and I got the room to myself; a situation which lasted until I went to university, where I alternated a year in halls of residence (my own room, but shared kitchen and bathroom) with shared houses. One year we were two men, one woman and a couple. It often felt like they were the sensible parents and we three were the unruly children. The second time we were four men, with all the noise and hygiene issues that implies. We were very proud of our Leaning Tower of Pizza boxes, which almost reached the ceiling, and our mantlepiece display of beer cans (similarly vertiginous and structurally unsound). Happy times.

Once I’d moved to London, my financial situation (i.e. unemployment) forced me to continue to share rent, bills and lebensraum with a motley assortment of ne’erdowells, although my co-renters were both out of the house most of the time, leaving me to rattle around on my own. I eventually managed to land myself a place in a house full of Scandinavian women whose acquaintance I had originally made at university. While there, I met my future wife (no, not one of the Scandies), and the rest, as they say, is history. The locations varied (UK, Ireland, Italy, Belgium), but I’ve been co-habiting with my better half ever since. There was a brief period in 2001 when she first went to Brussels for an internship for a few months, leaving me alone in our flat in Genoa while I finished my contract as an English teacher, but apart from that, I’ve always had to share at least a bathroom and kitchen, if nothing else, with others.

Maybe this is why I so value time on my own. Maybe if I had the house to myself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I’d be all the more keen to get out and socialise? Then again, I spend 8 hours a day at work surrounded by people, so I’m pretty sure I’d still spend most evenings alone with a good book, cd or dvd. Who knows? Being able to use the bathroom exactly when, and for as long as I like, would be nice. Once my two girls have grown up and I find myself in a house with three women, I think I’m going to have to build myself a little shed at the end of the garden…

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7 thoughts on “King of the castle

  1. tinafrench February 29, 2008 / 8:54 pm

    Hmm…there are some pretty glorious things about living alone, and ditto about living with someone else. I think it’s good to have experience with both – but everyone’s life path is different and there’s nothing wrong with any of them.

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  2. CuriosityKiller March 2, 2008 / 10:18 am

    You had a couple of months on your own – so that’s valid… it’s a lot better than some who had never really had a moment alone. But I know what you mean, you’ve never have been completely on your own with no one to worry over and simply surround yourself with your own stuff and no one else’s.

    I’ve been on my own for a little while – had roommates for awhile (as you can read from my 2nd last post, some situation just don’t work very well)… and I eventually got my own place, paying my own utility bills – every thing on my own. And it was kind of stressful in a different manner. My mindset change as well – I was more concerned with my financial securities over the happiness and joy of living in the moment.

    Besides, the apartment is smaller, cooking for one is fun but no one to share with isn’t as fun, the bills dents deeper into my income, my own schedule to sleep in late and no one to chat with. There was a time when I didn’t talk to anyone for days.

    It’s a different life, but there are sacrifices too. More importantly, I find out how I like to live my life. I saw it as a great stepping stone to the living conditions that I want for myself, more than a goal itself (to live by myself).

    Well, of course I also needed that time to battle my own demons. Living alone helps a great deal.

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  3. simonlitton March 3, 2008 / 10:45 am

    True enough, CK. Sharing responsibility for a household also means having someone else to blame, right? “What do you mean we haven’t paid the gas bill? YOU were supposed to do that!”

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  4. V-Grrrl March 3, 2008 / 11:39 am

    I’ve never lived alone either and during these days of sharing tight quarters with the husband and two kids, I fantasize about it A LOT.

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  5. birdandpickle March 4, 2008 / 3:19 pm

    I loved living alone and did so from age 23 to 35. In fact, I don’t ever remember wishing for another person to be there permanently. Here’s how alone I lived: My bathroom door was propped open with a doorstop. And I blasted my fair share of Earth, Wind & Fire. Tell the story, morning glory, all about the serpentine fire!

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  6. simonlitton March 4, 2008 / 3:29 pm

    I identify with the scene in the Simpsons when Homer decides to stay at home while everyone else goes to church. Suddenly finding himself home alone for the first time in his adult life, he goes to the bathroom: “I’m whizzin’ with the door open…and I like it!”

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  7. Peter March 10, 2008 / 3:14 pm

    Being King of the castle might sound tempting on those occasions when there are just way too many people around,
    [blogging with a TV at full volume while three people are busy discussing politics is a fine example], but
    just imagine what life would be like
    living all alone in that castle.

    It happened to me once, and no, I’d rather have too many people around.

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