Living Alone Without Becoming a Recluse: How to Strike the Fine Balance

I recently wrote about a book called Orchids on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis and have just finished reading her other book called Live Alone and Like It.  Although not as entertaining and helpful as Orchids (I found this one to be more dated), Live Alone and Like It was also chalk full of funny, witty, and ultimately practical advice.  Some highlights below.

From the chapter “Who Do You Think You Are?”
“There are other good kinds [of self pampering]: a glass of sherry and an extra special dinner charmingly served on a night when you are tired and all alone; bath salts in your tub and toilet-water afterward; a new and spicy book when you’re spending an evening in bed; a trim little cotton frock that flatters you on an odd morning when you decide to be violently domestic.  The notion that ‘it doesn’t matter because nobody sees you,’ with the dull meals and dispirited clothes that follow in its wake, has done more damage than all the floods of springtime.”

From the chapter “Setting for a Solo Act”
“One of the advantages of your way of living is that you can be alone when you want to.  Lots of people never discovered what a pleasure this can be.  Perhaps it was because of its possibilities that the misused expression ‘enjoy yourself,’ came into being.  The more you enjoy yourself, the more of a person you are.”

From the chapter “Pleasures of a Single Bed”
“If this all sounds a little dreary, think of the things that you, all alone, don’t have to do.  You don’t have to turn out your light when you want to read because somebody else wants to sleep.  You don’t have to have the light on when you want to sleep and someone else wants to read.  You don’t have to get up in the night to fix somebody else’s hot water bottle, or lie awake listening to snores, or be vivacious when you’re tired, or cheerful when you’re blue, or sympathetic when you’re bored.  You probably have the bathroom all to yourself, too, which is unquestionably one of Life’s Greatest Blessings.  You don’t have to wait till someone finishes shaving, when you are all set for a cold-cream session.  You have no one complaining about your pet bottles, no one to drop wet towels on the floor, no one occupying the bathtub when you have just time for a shower.  From dusk until dawn, you can do exactly as you please, which, after all, is a pretty good allotment in this world where a lot of conforming is expected of everyone.”   HALLELUJAH SISTA!

From the chapter “The Great Uniter”
“Of course the civilized place for any woman to have breakfast is in bed.  We might except Mother on the Farm, or the Italian lady whose family took the prize for size at the Chicago Fair.  But for you and me, who live alone and whose early mornings are uncomplicated by offspring, farm-hands, and even husbands, bed is the place.”

Of course a book could be written of even greater length about the benefits of living with another person, or a whole family, but I thought this book was positive enough that even the gals who had to move out on their own due to unfortunate circumstances could still be inspired to make the best of their situation.  And for just those kinds of gals who look forward to living with a special someone sooner than later, you need only look at the book jacket for the final words of encouragement: “Three years after the book’s publication, at the age of forty-nine, Ms. Hillis bid a fond farewell to the live-aloners by marrying Mr. T.H. Roulston” (from the author bio)


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