A reader whose name you may recognize from our discussions, Wiebes, would love to hear your answers to his question. He wants to go on a vacation on his own, but when he googles the obvious phrases, such as “vacation singles,” guess what comes back?
Knowing my interest in different kinds of personal communities, a friend recently gave me a copy of Isabel Allende’s 2008 memoir, The Sum of Our Days. She thought I would appreciate what Allende calls her “tribe.” She was right about that. Allende has all manner of important people in her life, including her grown children and the people dear to them, her spouse (the second one, Willie), her grandchildren, a pair of lesbian Buddists who become parents to one of her granddaughters, a stranger she meets in a bookstore, people who work for her and the people around her, a circle of close friends she calls her “sisters of disorder,” and many more. She doesn’t just keep in touch with those people – she wants as many of them as possible living in her own home or nearby.
Having just finished a draft of a chapter on singles-friendly workplaces, I’m back to thinking about family in the lives of singles who have no children. Family, in the contemporary American imagination, is linked to a particular kind of household – a nuclear family household, symbolized by the private home with a white picket fence.
I don’t usually like weddings. I know – you are shocked, shocked to hear that! Earlier this month, though, I went to a wedding that was actually a wonderfully pleasant experience. It was held in one of those exquisite outdoor Santa Barbara settings (not the beach – I love the beach, but that would have been way too clichéd). It started in the late afternoon, when it was warm, and continued into the balmy evening.
You know that scare story about how if you are single, you will grow old alone? My fear is that I WON’T grow old alone! I don’t mean that I want to be socially isolated. Like so many other single people, I have friends and family, and I don’t expect that to change. I also don’t mean that I’m worried about not living long enough to grow old, though I do have bad longevity genes. (My mother died at 71 and my father at 64. They were married for more than four decades, so don’t blame their short lives on singlehood!)