"It is not good that the man should be alone…" (Genesis 2:18)
At the beginning of all things, there came a time – very quickly, it seems – when God decided that it was no longer good for Adam to live alone. Such a time also came for me not long ago. No, God did not pluck a rib from my side and create the perfect partner (and let's face it, Adam's partner turned out to be not so perfect anyway, which is pretty much how it's gone for everyone since). No, there are no wedding bells chiming in my foreseeable future. But, after six plus years of solo living, the time came when it was no longer good for me to be alone.
It wasn't loneliness or the perceived need to have someone around that brought me to that point. I loved living alone. I reveled in my independence. I celebrated my ability to take care of myself. I still do, and I rejoice that I live in a time and place where it is possible for single women to support ourselves and choose to live on our own. It is highly possible that I will someday live alone again. All the same, the time came when it was no longer good for me to be alone.
So, a friend recently became my roommate. There were practical reasons, of course. Foremost, being single is expensive! It simply wasn't financially wise for either of us to continue to pay living expenses on our own. The monetary gains are helpful, and they're certainly easier to explain than the other reasons, but they're not the real benefit of this shift in my life.
All the reasons I didn't want to have a roommate were also the reasons that I needed to have one. I didn't want to have to tell anyone where I was going or when I would be back – but ignoring my own safety probably wasn't doing me any favors. I didn't want to deal with someone else's foibles in my space, but over time, my general patience with imperfection was decreasing. Not a great quality in someone who constantly works with human beings, who are consistent only in the fact that we are imperfect.
Most of all, I didn't want someone else to have to deal with my imperfections. I didn't want someone else to see me spending my days off on the couch in my pajamas, or leaving my dirty dishes in the sink for a week, or forgetting to take the trash out, or frittering away hours on-line, or coming home so exhausted and frazzled I couldn't string together a sentence. I didn't want someone else to know about the stupid TV shows I watch when my brain can't handle anything remotely intelligent, or how rarely I actually cook a meal. I didn't want someone else to have to help me. I didn't want to expose someone else to the melancholy or meanness that occasionally overwhelms me. I didn't want someone else to have to deal with the mess that I can make and be.
The longer I lived alone, the more I built a life that kept people out. I reasoned that this was an act of kindness to myself and to them. I was so effective at it that I had nearly convinced myself that no one would or could ever manage to live with me. Now that's a realization that gave me pause. As much as I enjoy living alone, I never want to be someone who must live alone, either because I can't make room in my life for someone else's mess, or because I'm unwilling to take the chance of them seeing mine. And I never want to be someone who can't allow myself to experience the grace of having another person see my mess, wade through it, and still be there for me on the other side.
Slowly, I'm getting used to making room in my apartment for another person. It's amazing to me that there's space for all of our stuff, almost as though these walls have spread out a bit to make room. Maybe it's too soon to tell, but I think I can feel my life beginning to expand, too, making space for new and necessary things. In case you're wondering, I still forget to take out the trash. But it's a funny thing…the trash seems to go out anyway, now that there's someone else here. It's a small thing, but it reminds me: it is good that I am not alone.
Rev. Stacey Midge is the Associate Minister for Mission, Outreach, and Youth at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady, NY, where she and her dog are both enjoying the adjustment to a feline roommate in addition to the human one.