Quiet Desperation

From one’s perspective, two’s a crowd


Few remember Love, a 1960s Los Angeles rock band. They had a number of minor hits, including “My Little Red Book,” “7 and 7 Is,” and “Alone Again Or.”

“Alone Again Or” was released in January 1968. It initially peaked nationally at 123, but went as high as No. 7 where I was: in Los Angeles.

It’s worth a listen as a background to this column.

Hearing it now, I’m back in college — and, as now, living alone.

According to data collected by the U. S. Census Bureau in 2018, “There are an estimated 35.7 million single-person households in the United States.”

That’s one-third of us.

Growing up in suburban neighborhoods, I don’t recall many single-person households.

It’s likely the majority in my area now live in townhomes and condominiums.

I’m a single-person home owner and I live right next to one, but I don’t think there’s another on the block.

Why do so many of us live alone? Lots of reasons.

I prefer it. There are no compromises or conflicts. None.

There were conflicts in our home when I was a teenager. Plenty.

The atmosphere was invariably tense.

Why did my mother and father remain together? That’s what couples did back then. They stayed together through thick and thin and more thin.

I had a front row seat to “All in the Acrimony.”

While I prefer to live alone, many don’t, but do because of the loss of a loved one, or because their children have grown up and departed.

For those and others for whom the holidays might be particularly difficult to face alone this year, a recent article in The New York Times had a few suggestions.

Ivy Kwong said, “Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the holiday is upon you to make a plan. Come up with something you’ll do on the day of the holiday: bake cookies, order take-out, work on a jigsaw puzzle, binge a podcast, watch your favorite movie.”

Kwong is a Seattle-based marriage and family therapist who specializes in healing codependency and inter-generational trauma.

I think doing any of those things as a plan would accentuate a perception of isolation. I might be wrong.

In the same article, Ayanna Abrams, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in creating healthy relationships, encourages singles to “Accept whatever feelings bubble up.”

I guess that means you should stay off the roof and go easy on the Smirnoff.

Living alone means I do everything around here. The laundry, yardwork, all the shopping, vacuuming. I reset the pins and thaw the goose.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Guess who said the following?

“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”

As it is now, I have the mobility and the health to live alone. The day may come when I have neither. Then what?

Kwong, I’m planning ahead.

There’s one more level to living alone and that’s living alone without love. That’s something I won’t kid about.

In my case, I have a sufficient number of friends who care about me.

And I have Harry. To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, life without Harry would be a mistake. I’d get me one if I were you.

My mailbox is always open, if someone could use a holiday pen pal.

The “delicious solitude” quote is Albert Einstein’s.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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