Helena Fitzgerald: Lonely vs. Alone

23 February 2018

I cleaned my apartment when no one was coming over, and cooked elaborate meals with no guests in mind but myself. I began to learn to say “no” to things, to define space for myself. I considered decisions longer, and hurt people less. With no one else’s needs into which to escape, it becomes much more difficult to skid through life on self-delusion and comfortable ignorance. Living alone is a confrontation with the mirror, a removal.

Women are pushed out of childhood so quickly, shoved without ceremony into the heavy social obligations of adulthood. Living alone is a reminder that we can make our bodies antisocial, hoarding our selfishness and our silence. Loneliness and solitude are privileges of thoughtless and full-throated adulthood traditionally handed to men and kept from women. They are the strange and rich pleasures of the world beyond the social, beyond the structures of home and family. 
Helena Fitzgerald
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