Eric Carmen never made a last minute elementary school Halloween Costume, put a homemade holiday meal on the table, or watched as a bowl of cookie dough was inhaled rather than baked. Nevertheless, he will forever be known for his famous single…and a song.
In this me first world, there is a huge difference between being alone on a daily basis and living alone. Those that are alone, generally have made that choice, prefer their independence or have yet to find someone to share their life. Regardless of the reason, they have continued their personal 24 hour, 7 day a week pattern, knowing that the bed will be made or unmade, waiting when it gets dark…no one cares if they drink from the orange juice bottle, and if their home is cleaned it stays that way, or clutter becomes a confident reminder of possession. There is nothing wrong with being alone, frankly it saves on utility bills, justifies ice cream for breakfast and toilet seats are never disrespected. For those who cherish their independence I salute you!
However, for those who live alone, it is much like walking into the last 30 minutes of a great movie, enjoying what you’ve seen, but all the while knowing you need to see what came first, in order to complete the picture. When you have been a part of a family unit, no matter how small albeit dysfunctional, there is a schedule and routine involved, having nothing to do with a Daterunner, Blackberry or org chart. Setting a meal on the table to cheers and jeers, and sometimes not eating because there is only enough for those you love has a very emotional place in life. Staying up late for crisis, talent show, cookie sale, bicycle assembly or removing stains from a game uniform are only a few of the moments of non-silence, which attach to those same hours and days.
There are also interpersonal moments such as hamsters giving birth, dogs or cats disappearing, accidents in bed at 3 am and broken hearts over things we will never understand, let alone justify. Needless to say, when all of that goes silent, due to divorce, death or grown children, living alone becomes a sentence that could be best served in Sing Sing, and again, has nothing to do with Eric Carmen.
Cooking for one slides into cooking for none, and ends up being food over the sink, or worse, sitting in the same spot at the table looking across at nothing. Listening to voices when they are only music or television, and wondering why you ever took hugs for granted can indeed cause insanity. At some point, it also becomes clear that wearing just your shirt and sliding across the floor of the living room is not risky business, but no one’s business…because frankly, you can do whatever you damn well please, and it pleases you like an unmedicated root canal.
In this ever changing technological world of silence, and isolation, don’t just listen, but hear when someone mentions they are the only one at home, and if they say they live alone, there is probably some sadness behind their eyes. Marlo Thomas, Mary Tyler Moore and Batman lived by themselves and did it well, but for those who read The Notebook, smelled ZuZu’s petals, or longingly swore they would never be hungry again, having that other half makes getting up every day the best part of the film
So the next time you are by yourself, offer some popcorn, maybe a hug or even a kind comment to someone that you know is alone, and who knows…you might both just leave with a new song in your heart.