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What is your ideal living situation? Is it influenced by how you were raised? Do you come from a large family where having others around is pretty much all that you know? Or is your background more of an only child situation, and you enjoy peace and seclusion when you can find it in your adult life? Or are you someone who can bebop along and go with the flow? Roommates/no roommates, doesn't matter. These may seem like fairly innocuous questions, but our living situation can be of great importance to our everyday well-being, so it's sometimes worth a look.

I was raised as an only child, for the most part. Technically, I have half-siblings, but they are from different marriages my father had, and we were not raised together. Being raised without siblings could be lonely at times, but it was all that I knew, and so it worked. When I wanted company I would seek out playtime with friends. Sometimes it was successful, other times not so much. Kids can sometimes be cruel, or bullying, or selfish, or any number of things that can make socializing a bit of a mixed bag. I felt most comfortable around adults.

At age 13, after my parents had divorced, mom met someone else and moved them in with their three kids. For a time, we all lived together under one roof, and I had the closest approximation to siblings thus far during my life. It did not go well. Nothing personal against the kids. They were just, well, kids. A little younger than myself, they did the typical stuff pre-teen siblings do: fight, argue, etc. Having been raised an only child, I was not equipped to handle such interactions, so there was failure on my end, as well. Eventually, our living situation changed, and I was on my own again.

From age 19 to 25, I lived by myself in a small but functional detached house that had its flaws, but was also a cozy home for over five years. Consisting of a small living room, kitchenette, bathroom with shower, and a bedroom, that little house on Healey St. sustained me and Punky (the calico I'd had since age 12) with efficiency. We made do, sometimes barely scraping by, and it could be rather lonely at times, but it worked. And, overall, it was a good experience to live on one's own. You learn to be more comfortable with yourself that way.

When it came time for Ashley & I to live together, I was exuberant. A married co-worker, however, advised caution. Move in together by all means, he implored, but be aware that it changes the dynamic. Not just the couple's dynamic, but us as individuals. I dismissed my colleague's words without much thought, but his words soon became prophetic. There was, at least for me, a notable adjustment period living with someone, especially when that someone was a romantic partner.

The comedian Sinbad had a stand-up routine that touched on the subject of couples living together, noting that, when you're single and want to go to the mall, you just get up and go to the mall. When you're living with a relationship partner and try to do the same, they invariably want to know where you're going. Adjusting my behavior to be more thoughtful about telling someone where I was going and what I was doing took awhile. Also, there was a period of time where I had to get used to not having any real alone time. As someone who was raised an only child, and had spent their entire adult life up to that point living alone, that was more difficult than one might imagine. No doubt it was an adjustment for Ashley, as well.

Nowadays, living with Ashley has become the norm, to the point that it's difficult to imagine life another way. Does that mean I'd be good in a situation living with other people? Probably not. My old, loner tendencies are still there. I am -- believe it or not -- a private person. Particular, as well. My preference is to either live with the person I love, or to live alone. The thought of cohabitation with others -- as in a bunch of roommates -- is off-putting. So it goes.

Of course, everyone's different. Some people thrive on being around others, and that's fine. Then there are those who are in happy romantic relationships, but choose to live apart. For them, having default access to privacy and alone time is paramount. Still others live alone either by choice or by fate, within their own Fortress of Solitude. We all are different in this regard, and I guess that's part of what makes life interesting. 


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