Lessons in Living Alone

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Three years ago, heartbroken after a roommate fallout, I decided to give up on roommates and go it alone. I got a tiny bachelor apartment that had clearly been part of a larger unit previously. It had only a sliding glass door and I made myself a kitchen out of an entertainment stand, an induction burner and a toaster oven. I’ve moved a couple times since then but each place has shaped a large part of my life while I inhabited it.

When I moved from the bachelor into a studio I decided not to take kitchens for granted anymore and started learning how to cook. I could no longer be dependent on another person I’m living with to fix meals and was sadly tired of take out. Like learning anything it's a long and slow process. Knowing how to make a few dishes and being comfortable in the kitchen are a far cry from each other but I committed myself to enjoying the journey.  This desire grew into a passion so strong it changed my career path. The kitchen has become a place where I can give into muscle memory, get into my senses and escape the rest of my day.

The not-so-fun part that comes after cooking is the cleaning. Occasionally my boyfriend would do the dishes for me when he came over for dinner but many times it was just me in the mess I had created. I found ways to motivate myself like playing fun music or not letting myself have dessert until the whole kitchen was clean. The chores went beyond the kitchen though and as I moved from place to place, each a little larger than the last, I had to learn how to maintain more space. In my studio apartment, I could tidy my whole space in about an hour, once I moved into a one bedroom it could take a whole day. I couldn’t let the chores pile up anymore and had to be more disciplined about chipping away at tasks throughout the week.

One of the most challenging things about living alone is FOMO. When you live with other people hanging out can be effortless and not having that near constant interaction can feel isolating. I had to become a much more active friend, taking the lead in inviting people out or sending texts just to see what’s going on. I was surprised that my friendships were actually strengthened by the necessity of intentionality within them. Likewise, my time alone was spent cultivating contentment and peace within myself.

I had to become a much more active friend, taking the lead in inviting people out or sending texts just to see what’s going on.

As my time living alone is coming to a close I have to let go of the pride I’ve taken in having my own place, but I know the things I’ve learned will serve me well once I’m navigating a shared space once again.

 Allie Silvas is a writer and line cook based in Los Angeles. You can find her writing about food and culture at matchstickcooking.com.

Allie Silvas is a writer and line cook based in Los Angeles. You can find her writing about food and culture at matchstickcooking.com.