Single But Not Alone

A building amidst garden in the Nrityagram Dance Community by Tim Schapker

Yes, there has been a lot of talk about housing these days, but I think I figured out the answer when I slipped in the shower once in June. I was showering after doing chores and running errands, and I lost my footing. While I could feel slight twinges of pain, I also heard two voices say, “Are you okay?” I replied in the affirmative, and felt inspired to share what the new lifestyle paradigm could be: single but not alone.

For too long, there has been exorbitant pressure on younger people to “grow up and get settled,” i.e. marry, buy a home, and reproduce. This fixation has increased domestic violence that could almost entirely be attributed to the rise in population. We are no longer in Victorian England: there is no reason to pay a sexual tax to create an adult living situation. The status of “roommate” was viewed derisively by people who want to exploit the working populations. We can move past that now.

Living with people also teaches everyone how to create healthy households–as well as helping people identify who are incapable of building such households. If people have different personalities, disabilities, and mental illnesses, society will learn better ways to cope based on necessity. Cleanliness will finally be distinguished from organization; perhaps people will also consume less because of the recultivation of communal living. Living alone breeds toxicity, but living with people forces those who might otherwise hurt people to consider whether their security is worth their entertainment.

Had I actually been hurt, there would have been two other people who could have helped me access medical care. There are many reasons why intergenerational households may not work well for everyone, but that is no reason why everyone should fear being unknowingly vulnerable. The “Case of Emergency” people could grow exponentially, forcing the medical profession to adapt. After all, it is really no business of a business who comes when someone is under medical supervision.

Finally, the second one enters a home, that person would enter a shared space. Too often, people living alone are confronted by violence, much of which could be avoided if there were witnesses. Abusive ex-lover? Well, it becomes harder to take revenge when someone else is there to call for help. Immigrant raid? Better hope that none of the roommates are activists or lawyers, or that none of them turn on a camera, record the situation, and acquire a lawyer or an activist group. Shared spaces can be some of the safest spaces, and can reduce stress on an already burned out populace.

The age of the expectation of a nuclear family is over. Regardless of sexual orientation, there is no guarantee that people will marry, reproduce, and consume. More people would prefer to learn to cultivate food while having access to the internet, and living alone is becoming a more expensive feat. There is no perfect model, and it is time for society to understand that “one house, one family” is not sustainable, nor is mindless consumption to fill the homes that the businesses demand.

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