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Header: Jess Anderson in Madison Wisconsin
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No Men In My Life
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It's a blessing, a big one, as far as I am concerned. I certainly didn't always think it would be a good thing. There was a longish period, probably well over half my life, when I thought a person would somehow not be fulfilled without a significant other person in their life to share everything with.

But the fact was that I had never lived alone, really. The closest I had come was my second year in college, when my boyfriend was in the Army. Still, I had a boyfriend, and that made a difference, as I saw things.

In the relatively brief interstices between boyfriends from age 11 to age 43, I nevertheless always had one or more roommates in my living spaces. Until I was 46. My last roommate moved out (it was amicable) and somewhat unexpectedly I found I didn't want to look for a replacement. I had only one more love affair after that, at age 48, and it was brief: six months.

Over the course of more than 20 years since then, I've lived alone in my small house. I had no idea how convenient it would be to have to answer to no one on this earth about what I did at home. I live according to my own rhythms, for the most part, going to cultural events or visiting friends. I used to like having a cat in the house, but that's really not at all on the same level as interacting with another human being, and after the last cat died I decided not to get another. It's not that I'm antisocial or in any way misanthropic; rather, within the walls of my house I have a sense of repose, of sanctuary, free of outside concerns.

Corresponding to this physical separation, I think there's also an emotional one. For all that I was greatly enriched and excited by the series of romantic liaisons that filled the first two-thirds of my life, at some point I felt I'd really done enough of all that. With what time I had left on the mortal coil, it makes more sense to try to live a bit differently. I can't really judge how well or even whether this is working for me, but it seems to be.

For one thing, I was less secure in the boyfriend period. I vested a certain amount of myself in each of the relationships, and when each ended, there was a terrible sense of being uprooted, almost disenfranchised from the rule of myself. It wasn't just sadness, although that was also present. It was loss of self, and each time it took longer and longer to restore. One fine day I started to ask myself, "How much is enough?"

The old pattern is still not entirely erased, however. If I find myself attracted to someone, I certainly want that person to be around, to be accessible. But immediately that I have feelings of that kind, I also think "Yeah, but..." I suppose I wouldn't mind making eggs on the occasional morning, but I wouldn't want a steady diet of breakfast with boyfriends. And actually, I don't want to have infatuations either; they take too much out of me, in terms of emotional energy.

So all in all, no men is the right situation for me at this stage. I compromised the principle once, a few years ago, letting myself be courted, and the results were frankly disastrous. So enough of that!

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