Posts Tagged ‘living alone’

On a recent Saturday night, I slid into a movie-theater seat with snacks stuffed into my tote bag. I sat through a raft of previews (some engaging, some decidedly less so) before settling back and enjoying the main feature, Ticket to Paradise. (This is not a review of that film, but I will say that George Clooney’s “peak dad” dance moves were hilarious, and Julia Roberts’ laugh is as wonderful as ever.)

This was only the second film I’d ever seen solo: the first was Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, earlier this summer. I am 39 years old, and I’ve been going to the movies since I was a child, but it had somehow never occurred to me that I could go alone – or that I’d want to.

For me, one of the challenges of getting divorced – and then living alone, during a pandemic, with local friends (and my partner) scattered around the city – has been learning to do things alone that I used to do in community. My ex and I used to do grocery shopping together most weekends, for example. I didn’t mind going alone, but I liked pushing the cart through the aisles together, picking out ingredients for the meals we planned to cook that week. We always went to movies as a couple, or with friends. We had some separate hobbies and interests, but our lives, for a long time, were ultimately oriented toward being together.

That is the part of marriage I miss the most, even after three years living solo: the emotional sense, and the practical reality, of being part of a unit in this world. Now that my life is much more solitary, I’ve had to adjust my perceptions of these activities, even though I still have friends and a partner who are more than happy to ride bikes or go to dinner or attend a play with me, if the timing works out.

I’ve grown to love doing some things alone: these days, whether I’m ushering or not, I love a solitary night at the theatre. But it’s still a bit weird to me to walk into the movies alone. I’ve been trained to see moviegoing, like concerts or sporting events or church, as a social, communal activity. And while I know people attend these events solo all the time, a part of me still wonders if I’m lacking somehow when I show up without a companion.

Fortunately – at least so far – going to the movies alone has proven an unexpected delight. There’s a tinge of loneliness, sure, but I can still text my friends after the movie to tell them how much fun it was. I can eat my snacks and laugh or cry along with my fellow audience members, and enjoy being swept up in a story. And afterward, when we emerge blinking from the theater and back into our lives, I can feel proud that I took a small but brave step toward embracing this still-new, more solitary life.

Do you like going to the movies alone? I’d love to hear.


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A couple times recently, I’ve heated up a frozen meal for lunch. On the surface, I suspect, that might not seem revolutionary. But it sort of is for me. 

The meals were part of my second shipment from Mosaic (referral link), a plant-based meal delivery service recommended by a friend. Since my divorce, I’ve struggled with cooking for one, especially in the warmer months. I can make big batches of soup in the winter and eat them all week long, but once May hits, I’m sick of soup, and it doesn’t appeal as much in the summertime. So many recipes, like enchiladas and curries and stir-fry, are meant for three or four people (at least), and not all leftovers keep as well as soup. And though I’ve been making Molly’s ratatouille about once a week, I don’t want to burn myself out on it – especially since it’s not even July yet.

My friend Sharon, who also cooks for one on a regular basis, recommended Mosaic, but I was hesitant at first to try it out. For one thing, it felt like an unnecessary expense: I already buy groceries for myself every week and eat out occasionally, and I wondered if putting more dollars toward food would be worth it. I’m aware that I’m super privileged to even be able to consider a fancy frozen-meal service, and I also wondered: isn’t there something I’m missing? Some hidden cache of easy, quick, nourishing delicious recipes that everyone else knows about and I don’t? (If there is, and you know about it, please send it my way – or any particular recipes you love!)

Resorting to frozen meals also, frankly, felt like admitting defeat: like a fundamental failure in taking care of myself. I did a lot of the cooking when I was married, and there were certainly weeks I groused about it, but for some reason, the prospect of cooking dinner for one, an average of five nights a week, every week since my divorce has ground me down. (I do eat with my guy regularly, and occasionally with friends, but everyone’s work schedules plus the pandemic means I can’t count on that more than a night or two each week.) I grew up in a household where my mother insisted on family dinner, and somehow managed to produce healthy, tasty meals night after night. We rarely, if ever, resorted to TV dinners, though we did enjoy the occasional pizza or taco takeout night. So, on some level, even weighing this option felt like a failure. 

I argued myself out of Mosaic for a couple weeks, but after a few (more) evenings of staring morosely at an uninspiring fridge, I decided to give it a shot. And you know what? It’s good. 

The meals are tasty, healthy and hearty (though I’m always keeping an eye on the sodium content, because I know frozen food has tons of it). Some of them, like the noodle bowls, are a little different than what I would make for myself, which is nice. And instead of seeing my use of the service as a failure, I’m trying to embrace it as another tool: a way of caring for myself (albeit a slightly pricey one) for the days when I’m out of leftovers, inspiration, or both. 

Any tips and tricks for a solo cook? Or do you have other prepared meals you really like? 

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When I started running, as previously mentioned, I didn’t tell anyone about it for a little while. This was mostly because I wasn’t sure it would stick. But even after I’d become a dedicated runner, I didn’t write about it here on the blog, or even talk to friends about it, much. Running felt, in those early days, both precious and precarious: something new and tentative that was all mine.

Fast forward three years and here I am spending a whole month writing about running (and if you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you). I post photos from my runs on Instagram all the time (though that is also because I’m a flower fiend and a fall-leaf fanatic). But even while I share bits of my running with the world, I mostly run alone.

I could run with other folks if I wanted to: there’s a run club or two in my neighborhood, and I can see the appeal of running in community. I do enjoy the occasional buddy run with a friend or 5K with a crowd, and my guy and I have put in a few miles together. But mostly, running is a solitary pursuit for me. I like being alone with my thoughts, my music, the wind on my face and whatever pace I feel like setting that day.

Since my divorce and the pandemic, I’ve spent more time alone than I previously ever had, and sometimes it gets to me. Sometimes solitude and loneliness blur together until I can’t tell one from the other. Some days I find myself desperate for real, in-person connection. (Thank goodness for park yoga and walks with girlfriends and, most especially, time with my guy.)

Even with an abundance of solitude, though, I still like running alone. There’s something soul-nourishing about setting out for a few solo miles, where I’m out in the world but I belong only to myself. Running has become a form of meditation and self-care in addition to exercise. And mostly, it’s something I relish doing by myself, for myself.

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on living alone

Thought for the day…

“It’s just like magic. When you live by yourself, all your annoying habits are gone.”

-Merrill Markoe

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