I have lived alone for many years–since 2005, to be exact. I had some roommate-type people in my life for about six months in 2008, but it was an enormous house and I had the entire top floor, which had a luxurious bathroom by that country’s standards: it had a sort of bathtub that you could fit into if you scrunched yourself up very tightly. The only time I had contact with the roommates was in the kitchen, and that was bad enough: two Orthodox Jewish women who kept meticulous Kosher (myself and my favored roomie) and the other, a contrary Dutch woman who wanted to convert to Judaism but was too stubborn to accept its laws.
We were not permitted, by Jewish law, to use any of her cooking or eating utensils; and the other Jewish woman was Chabad, and they have different (and much more strict) customs than the stream of Judaism I practiced, so she also had her own set of cooking and eating utensils, which consisted of a frying pan, a pot, a glass, a plate, a fork, a knife, and a spoon. I am the post-professional cook, so I require lots and lots of cupboard space. Luckily there was plenty.
That is, until the snow storm melted and got into the walls, and the walls sprouted huge bracket fungus which released choking spores into the air. Time to move.
Even though I adore the Chabad woman, with whom I maintain an occasional but warm relationship, I was eager to find a place on my own. It took me a few moves to find the right place, but it happened, and I was very happy there for four beautiful years.
Then my father’s various disasters started happening with increasing frequency, so I moved yet again, to the other side of the world, to be near him.
Now I live in what is basically a reclaimed barn. I have running water from a live spring that comes out of one tap. There is a two-gallon hot water heater–I don’t know whose brilliant idea that was, but I can tell you it’s not enough hot water to do a few dishes, or to wash myself or my hair, which requires heating water in the kettle and using a pitcher to pour it over my head over the sink. Washing the rest of me is easier, but I won’t go into the details.
Bathroom there is none, as you may have surmised from the above paragraph. In fine weather the toilet is outside. When the weather is foul or cold, I have an electric incinerating toilet (a consolation gift from my mother, very unusual). I am loth to use it, though, because contrary to the blurb on its website, it stinks to high heaven and I am forced to spend a small fortune on incense.
But–I live alone. I don’t have to put up with anyone else’s habits or eccentricities, arguments over whether it’s pronounced “almonds” or “ah-monds,” or some well-meaning recycling obsessive type who goes through the trash in case I threw out recyclables or compostables (!) each and every time I toss something in the bin. I can bloody well contribute anything I like to the ever-growing plague of solid waste on the planet. And I beg the question of whether or not to compost by pointing out the bear tracks near my barn. I’m certain no compost bin is completely bear-proof, and at the very least it would end up at the bottom of the cliff. So the small amount of compostable waste I generate goes right in the bin and I feel absolutely no guilt about it.
I don’t have to deal with someone else’s bong filling the air with blue stinking haze. Now, I should be the last to complain about someone enjoying a little smoke, since I do it myself. I guess it’s a matter of scale. I am a lightweight when it comes to intoxicants of all kinds. I drink, yes: about half an ounce of Scotch or Bourbon will do, and one or two tokes on a small pipe takes care of my ganja needs. My air is not so thick that you need to part the curtain of thick smoke just to remark to your wrecked roomie that the smoke detector seems to have been deactivated.
All things considered, I am very comfortable in my barn, with no one to bother or to bother me, and no one to ask me questions, or rifle through the trash after me, or argue about the pronunciation of the names of seeds. My air is clear, my kitchen is Kosher but not overly so, and my view of the river is obstructed only by the leaves of the black birch and beech trees, when they are leafed out.
If the whole thing were lifted up and carried to the other side of the world, my joy would be complete.