"Know thyself" said the Greeks. Maybe Socrates, maybe someone else. Thoreau left society to live alone in the woods in order to accomplish this, among other reasons.
Why the philosophy? I don't know. Maybe because I'm considering my life and where it's going. I've been spending more time alone than usual, which as Thoreau discovered causes those sorts of thoughts to spring forth.
I've been spending time alone because I've been living alone, for the first time in my life. I've had roommates since moving away from home. Technically this place is not mine alone, Boyfriend will be moving in with me. But he's spent the summer on the Northern Peninsula and I've been on my own in this house for nearly two months.
There have been times when the solitude has been a relief, even a joy. After a heavy day at work, or a week that's found me busy every night. It's wonderful to have a space over which I had complete control, a place where there was no need to consider anyone else at all. Music if I wanted it, silence if I didn't. No mess if I didn't make one, and no one else judging my mess if I did.
There have been other times, when the solitude has become emptiness. Where my house, instead of seeming large, became tight, closed and oppressive. One Saturday morning I dashed out to the grocery store, just to be around people. I'd only been on my own since the previous afternoon, but at that moment it was more than I could handle.
What have I learned in this time? I think I do well enough on my own, but I do need other people. I need someone to share my life with. I can make a house feel like home all by myself, but I want to share my home. Not with just anyone, but with someone I love who loves me, to share not just my home, but my life. Boyfriend will return from his Northern adventure next week, and he'll move in then. And I'm ready for that.
The other issue about living alone is the cooking. I discussed this in an earlier post, but I find very little pleasure in cooking just for myself. It doesn't seem worth the time or the dishes. I eat tuna sandwiches, cheesy eggs, and veggies from the market. Almost all my meals are forgettable.
Except this one:
In a fit of loneliness the other evening, I decided to make the ultimate comfort food. It had to be warm and mushy, to start. It had to have cabbage (because the cabbage couldn't wait any longer to be cooked) and it needed to have chicken-soup levels of comfort.
I started with a recipe from I Know How to Cook By Ginette Mathiot but I changed it a lot. That's something new for me. Maybe when I'm feeding myself I'm more likely to take risks? Who knows. Anyway, I came up with the following, which was everything I needed it to be:
Half a large cabbage, sliced to ribbons
An onion, chopped
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1 slice prosciutto, ripped to bits
1 cup chicken broth
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then stir in the onions. Add a pinch of sugar to help them brown. When they start to brown a little, add the cabbage and stir to coat. Pour the broth over and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Done!