This coming Wednesday will mark the 20th anniversary of living completely on my own. June 1, 1996, I moved into my small, five-hundred-and-something square foot apartment in Largo, Florida. The space was tiny, and while I only intended to live there months to maybe a couple of years, I resided there for over eleven years.
In August, 2007, I moved from Florida to a one bedroom apartment on the seminary campus in St. Louis. I felt a bit less alone in that apartment as seminary friends surrounded me for three years.
But school ended in 2010, and I needed to move again. It was a torturous year because I moved three times, eventually landing in Cincinnati.
Each of those apartments represent the single Michelle – no roommates, no significant others, no family members on any of the leases.
I’ve learned how to kill spiders, usher lizards out the door, open any type of bottle – including the wide salsa containers, get my garbage disposal working again, know when I needed to light the pilot light on the gas stove and plunge toilets. I can’t say that I’ve never needed help, but for day-to-day operations, I feel confident to be on my own.
And I feel that God has given me what I needed to be fiercely independent. Psalm 68 says “God gives the desolate a home to live in.” Through the grace and mercy of God, I’ve had people, strength and comfort to get me through the solo years.
And through my fiercely independent life, I now know that eventually moving in with a significant other will not have anything to do with “need” but “want.” I want the merged life, the person with whom I spend my evening and weekends whether we are working in separate rooms or sitting together on the couch watching TV.
There is an emotional tug of war with the ideal of living full-time with another person. As humans, I believe we are created to be in relationship with others. Ecclesiastes 4 states:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
And yet, I know that it will be an adjustment to live with another person someday. Being solo, I have my own system of life. Sometimes, I’ll fall asleep on the couch and sometimes in my bed. I have my TV or some online streaming video service going during every waking hour because I love the noise. I will sit in front of my TV and work on various type of crafts and arts – spreading my work out as I know no one will care if a few things are scattered on the floor. One season four episode on “Sex in the City “calls it “Secret Single Behavior.”
From time to time I do wonder: What would a significant other or roommate think of my life?
I don’t feel like I’m too set in my ways even though I’m used to solo life and being fiercely independent. I’m willing to compromise and change some to merge my life with another person. But in the meantime, I will watch the Kardashians, eat dinner while sitting on my couch, color in my coloring books while lying down in bed, stay up until 3 AM working on cleaning out a closet and keep my clean laundry in a bin instead of sorting, folding and placing in a drawer. I may always partake in these secret single behaviors. At 43, I’m allowed to be authentic whether alone or with another person.
I love my life today. And I would love to merge lives with someone someday too.