Living alone means…

Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist

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Was searching for the source of a quote about how sharing with someone doubles our joys and halves our sorrows (there are so many different sources mentioned that I can’t determine where it actually originated) when I came across this one:

“Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.” – Margaret Mead

Reminds me of a wonderful reflection on living alone that appeared in this blog a few years ago. And my comment on it: “As author Alice Walker so aptly puts it, when you have a live-in, that’s at least one side of you that’s covered. When you live alone, you’re vulnerable on all sides.”

So let’s see. What does she mean when she says “sides,” and which one is supposed to be uncovered when you live alone?

Financial is one side. Though it may also be true for a single partner in a percentage of married or cohabiting couples, we singles mostly bear the full costs of everything we do and are solely responsible for maintaining our home, clothes, etc. We don’t generally have people  volunteering to throw in a percentage of their salary to help.

Social. We may, and if we’re lucky, do have enough pals or friends we can go places and do things with. To have company out in the world is usually a blessing; to have company at home can be a mixed blessing when you’re not in the mood! But in any case it can take extra courage to pursue life’s little adventures when you have to do it alone.

Physical. When you live with someone, you have another person to share a hug with when you need one. In romantic relationships you’ve got regular opportunities for sex. Singles must work to find hugs among friends or relatives, and/or we can get and give physical affection with a pet.

What else? Spirituality is something we all choose and experience alone.

Emotionally could be where she’s suggesting the “uncovered” side occurs when you live alone. You may have one or more close friends you can turn to for support, but you always have to find them first. They’re not there to see and hear your pain when you get the devastating phone call about a lost job or the death of a close friend. They’re not wondering where you are when you’re late, and they’re not there to be glad when you get home (another thing pets can help with!).

Do you feel vulnerable on all sides? If you believe that life is a series of lessons, then it’s easy to see that living alone can be the larger context for the kinds of lessons you never have to face when you always live with someone. Just as living with someone gives you lessons you can’t get any other way.

There are joys and freedoms to being coupled just as there are unique joys and freedoms to being single. When the day comes that society values both equally, there will be no need for organizations like SWWAN.

Cropped screenshot of Rosalind Russell from th...

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Ever notice how the most interesting and exciting stories (in books and movies) usually involve an independent woman, generally unmarried? think about it–even in the day of Rosalind Russell. Read my review of her movie, Sister Kenney.

[Many thanks to Wendy and Rosemary for helping me sort through the issues for this post. And check out their website: www.mysinglespace.org]

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La Dolce Vita an exercise in male single-life fantasy

You know, I thought I had seen “La Dolce Vita” many years ago, but got it from Netflix anyway thinking, hey, it’s a classic and can’t hurt to see it again. Turns out I never saw it–or at least never got past the first part of it.

Why? It’s really a vehicle Federico Fellini created for feeding male fantasties–definitely not high on my list of favorite ways to be entertained. The protagonist (I don’t call him a hero because he’s pretty much a rich lowlife with nothing on his mind but having sex with as many women as possible, despite the fact that he lives with a very beautiful woman who loves him) , played by a handsome young Marcello Mastroianni, wanders through the movie seducing and being seduced by women of every stripe–rich, bored heiresses, to older women, to 15-year-old girls. However, it all happens in opulent surroundings, with fancy cars (for the times), with people wearing beautiful clothes behaving in wanton ways throughout the two-and-three-quarters hours of the film, so it looks seductively attractive.

Marcello makes a bow to morality by asking his older friend who’s settled–that is, married with two children he clearly loves deeply–if he shouldn’t do this himself, isn’t it healther? But, no, the calm and settled guy says don’t let appearances fool you. Every day he regrets that he doesn’t have a wider life with more options. Marcello returns to his playboy path. And just to drive the point home, Fellini has the calm and settled friend commit suicide later in the movie. Oh, yeah, and Marcello’s live-in lover finally commits suicide, too.

There’s an amazing sequence in the movie where two children are supposed to have seen an apparition of the Madonna–wild to see the gullibility of the masses. Reminds me of how easily human beings can be sucked into doing ridiculous–or hateful–things.

The movie’s pretty depressing in its depiction of the various women as sluts, crazy, and so madly in love they give their own lives up. I was gratified on viewing the critic’s comments of the DVD that he said this movie is not even considered one of Fellini’s best. So guess I know now the reason why it’s had such a long and popular life.

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Stories that take us away

When you think about a lot of what's on television these days–murder, gore, sitcoms, and reality shows–and the magical enchantment of the Internet, you might wonder if books have lost their power.

But all you have to do is find a good one and you'll likely be lost to those other blandishments. That's why at SWWAN we are building a database of book (and movie) reviews by single women. If you're anything like me regarding fiction, you may have a hard time knowing what to pick out at the library or at the bookstore. Everyone tends to rely on the blurbs on the cover–but what do we have in common with most of those reviewers? Not much in most cases. And even though we're all wonderfully individual, we thought it might be nice to get a recommendation from a fellow single-woman traveler.

One day we hope to start a star system like with Netflix where you rate for yourself and then they recommend other things you might like. For now we just take your description of the story (and a good quote if you like), and let you judge for yourself. So check out our book and movie reviews page and maybe start your own rating list.

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