Friday, January 13, 2017

The Joys and Perils of Living Single

I have been living along for 20 years now.  It is a loooong time to be alone.  Initially it was the job that took me to places where I had to be single, and then it was the job and destiny that kept me single.

My first single living experience was in Buffalo, NY, for one year.  I had an apartment to myself, I could do whatever I wanted, eat whatever I wanted and since it was my first "sort of real" job, I could buy whatever I wanted.  It was great! I decorated my place, bought the furniture I wanted (some of it made me overdraw on my account - but it was a lesson to be learnt). I learned the hard lesson of cleaning snow from my car and driving in the snow of Buffalo....still gives me the chills.

Second single living was in Vancouver, BC, Canada, again for about one year.  I had a nice little basement apartment, typical of Vancouver living.  I never felt lonely in Vancouver.  There was so much to do, life was all around me.  I had a few good friends to hang out with and the rest, I did not care. I went everywhere I could possibly go.  I did not know if I would ever come back there after leaving so might as well enjoy every moment of it. And I did! The only bad part was not having means to do laundry at home. I had to haul my laundry to a laundromat once in a while.

The longest single stay so far has been in Kansas City, MO - 11 years.  This, as Charles Dickens would start to say, was the best of times and the worst of times.  Academic life kept me busy for most part, I worked hard to get my promotion and tenure, but there was always time for fun.  I managed to take some evening classes, learned about computer science, web design, programming, candle making and yes.....candy decoration :-)  Every Indian friend of mine was married and eventually had kids.  I was lucky to have the best girlfriends who had wonderful husbands.  If it wasn't for them being good, I would not have been able to have an active social life. It seemed like I had three circle of friends; the Indian group, my academic group and my student-friend group. All of them kept me occupied one way or another.

Then came Winchester, VA, for two years. Winchester was the place where I really started watching more TV.  Work was limited to 12 credit hours of teaching.  I would be home by evening and then I would go to work out (diligently) and then.....nothing! I tried to have a little social life but there were three groups in this little city - the punjabis, the bengalis and the south Indians.  All with their own language and groups. The only hindi speaking person was a newly wed couple next door - and they were a little too lovey dovey for me to socialize with. I did do some touristy stuff there....but how long can that last for anyone?

Now I am at West Palm Beach. And as I took a walk in the Okeeheelee trail around the lake, I was thinking, "Wow! I was doing exactly the same thing 7 years ago! Nothing has moved in my life. Things may have gotten a little worse maybe. My pay has not improved, my working condition has gone down and my personal life sucks." So 7 years of complete nothing. Meanwhile, my friends have gotten married, have had babies, kids graduated, bought new homes and cars.....

As I am getting older, I have some more time to look back and see where I have been.  Of course I have more years behind to look at also! And as I am still single, I think about - "Is this really where I wanted to be when I was in my 40s."  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would still be single at this age.  All Indian girls get married by 26-28, so would I.  But ..... well that is another story (or blog).

The best part about living alone is the independence.  I get to chose what to do, what to eat, where to go, where to shop, when to shop, where to spend my money, what movie to see etc etc.  I am not responsible for anyone else but me...and the three plants I have at home.

The downside to living alone is the being "alone" part.  I have to make all my decisions - no one makes them for me, so I better be good at them.  I have to manage everything - domestic, academic, auto, travel etc all by myself.  Sometimes it is too tiring for me to even go and get the milk from the store....but I have to, or I will not get tea. The most boring part is not having friends like myself. At this age, I am limited to being with people I like - not just because I "need" to hang out. All girls my age are married, have kids it's little hard to socialize sometimes.

I spend a lot of time with my lovely TV. Writing has become my new hobby. The laptop is literally attached to my lap now. I do get to do innovative things that I would not do if I was with someone because I may not get time to think as deeply as I do now.

In short, I would say, life has been good.  Not great....just good. I have tried to do my best in my circumstances with my brain power. I have no regrets so far. I have stood by every decision I have made and I still believe that I am better off single than in a bad relationship. Loneliness hurts sometimes, but with being with a person who hurts you all the time it's worse.

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