Thursday, November 15, 2007

Living Single

I have lived by myself for a few years now and I have loved every moment of it. This morning I found an interesting article in the Globe and Mail that I thought I could share:

For Christmas last year, Santa Claus gave me a single napkin ring.

Okay, so it was my mother who tucked it into my stocking. And no, my mother, who lives in England with my father, doesn't make a habit of playing Santa every year.

But we were together for a family reunion, and as I am spouseless, she added to the stocking stuffers my children buy for me. That little sparkly napkin ring was a reminder, as mothers are accustomed to give, about what it means to live alone - it is an art, and it takes practice and discipline.

Does living alone mean you start down the slippery slope of reduced standards? Among other benefits of marriage is that someone else is a buffer between you and yourself, helping you not to fall into bad habits such as drinking too much wine, leaving your clothes on the floor and, worst of all, eating your dinner out of a container as you stand beside the sink.

"A good meal is like a present," writes Jenni Ferrari-Adler in the introduction to Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, a collection of essays on single cuisine.

That may be so, but preparing food for one is the greatest challenge of living solo. The act of cooking is an act of generosity, done for others. It's an expression of love, so it can feel weird doing it for yourself, a bit like culinary masturbation.

"It took me several years of such periods of being alone to learn how to care for myself, at least at the table," admits legendary food writer M. F. K. Fisher in one of the book's essays.

Living well alone is an interesting encounter with oneself. You can hear yourself think. You can watch yourself act. As a result, you learn to really like yourself.

As my weekly flower friend says, "People who are afraid of living alone have not faced a lot of things about themselves."

I can't say that I am always making myself gourmet fare when I eat alone. I'm more like the single-double (and divorced) man I know in Toronto, who confesses that he envisioned he would "come home from work, check the mail, hang up my manly winter coat, fix a drink made with premium spirits, and cook a nice meal with a real sauce for myself." He sometimes did, but often he'd grab a bite and watch television.

Still, on the nights that I eat quick, simple fare by myself, I enjoy the snug solitude. It's me, my soft-boiled egg, a glass of red wine and my sparkly napkin ring against the world.


At 6:23 p.m., Blogger Leili said...

thanks for sharing, great article :-)


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