In the late bloom of evening, just before dark, when the air temperature finally dropped to pleasant and home was only minutes away, I bumped into a friend finishing a salad by herself in an empty restaurant.
My friend was blissfully happy. She had come back early from a family vacation to fulfil some work obligations. She wasn’t cooking. She wasn’t cleaning. She was determining her own schedule and indulging herself in every way because she had the house all to herself.
I was still wondering about why women are so often thrilled to have the house to themselves when I went into a meeting the next morning. The meeting was about a new service organization that is working to address immediate needs for the homeless using an innovative model. Martha was powerful. Her grip was crushing when she shook my hand. She was motivated, articulate and determined. One of the first statistics she cited was the rapidly growing number of women over 40 who had been self-employed, or owned businesses, who are now homeless. It turns out, she had been one of these women.
As the meeting continued, I found myself pondering what it means to women to have a house to themselves – literally and metaphorically. I have been watching a seemingly endless parade of need over the last few years and trying to figure out why some manage to hold on, in spite of the economy, and why some fall so hard. Is it random? Or does it have something to do with the metaphysical house we each inhabit? Is the foundation of our house made solid with a sense of self-worth, an understanding of our place in the world (friends, community, etc.), firm goals and a positive outlook? Or, are we neglecting the foundation through self-doubt, fear, and isolation?
For me, having the house to myself means having quiet time to spend with myself. Usually, this time is creative and when I have the house to myself, I am in my studio or tapping away on my keyboard. Sometimes, having the house to myself means working in my garden or taking a hike with the dogs. I even have the house to myself when I am sipping a glass of wine, looking at the stars, and enjoying quiet conversation with my love. I almost never find myself craving alone time in my actual house, though lots of women I know do. This is probably because most often when I find myself alone in my house, I decide to clean it!
I wonder what having a house to yourself means to you and would welcome essays, thoughts, poems, photographs, etc. If you want to send your ideas in for publication here, email them to me at destinyallison (at) aol (dot) com. I look forward to your perspectives.