One of my nieces had a birthday last month and we went to dinner on a Sunday afternoon. Her mother let her choose the restaurant, so IHOP it was (I'd have gone for fine dining, even at 16, but the kid loves her some IHOP). So the fam and I are making small talk, I'm picking at a spinach salad, and out of the blue my older niece asks, "now that Michael's gone, aren't you LONELY?"
My first instinct was to ask her if the question was directed at me, since she'd spent the earlier part of the meal chatting on her cell phone. But I don't comment on the kids' manners anymore, mostly because I take a happy pill before family dinners and no longer care, and also because we were at an International House of Pancakes.
What I wanted to say: "Listen, kiddo. First, Michael was my roommate and friend, not my constant companion. He has always had his own life and I have mine. Second, he didn't die; he lives in his own house now less than a block away. Third, we're both over 30 and need our own space. Fourth, I lived alone before Michael moved in. I loved living alone then; I love it now. I have always liked being alone and my biggest problem in any (romantic) relationship I've had has always been lack of room to breathe. I need my space. Finally, I just don't get "lonely" and I'm not sure I'd know it if I did. Maybe I do and just don't recognize it as "loneliness." But I think just from hearing other people talk about it...well, I'm not lonely. My time is my time, all the time, and I like it that way.
But I didn't get into all of that. I have a "no deep discussions at houses-o-pancake" rule. Plus, it was a legitimate question from someone who has never lived alone. What I said was: "Naked time." Seriously, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is drop trou. When you live with someone else platonically, it's really not polite to lounge on the couch in your underwear (or anything less than your underwear). But when you live alone, if you want to paint the ceiling while listening to The Ramones at 3am wearing only a drop cloth tied around your neck like a cape, that's your prerogative.