From Solo to Shared

Sharing Spaces ©FrogDiva Photography

So here’s the thing: I have been living on my own since July of 2016, and after 2.5 years, I have gotten used to it, going from full-on family anchor with multiple roles, to suddenly being accountable only to myself. It doesn’t mean that I like it, but I can say that I found a routine that I can live with. Of course, it was much easier in Manila being surrounded by family, close friends, and the inherited household staff of my mother. There is no point in comparing solo living in Manila (because one is never really alone) to what I am experiencing in Germany either, so I won’t.

If there was ever a year that I was eager to bring to a close, it was 2018 after 12 months of physical, emotional, psychological and financial struggles. While standing under the shower the other day, it occurred to me that the last time I was on a proper holiday was November 2017, followed by a brief (three days) parachute mother-visits-daughter-in-place-of-study escapade which, for all intents and purposes, cannot be considered a holiday.

When the divorce was finalised in November 2018, I gave myself a pat on the back and decided that I could finally lean back and plan on a long overdue holiday. I have huge projects in the pipeline for 2019 which will suck up all my finances and test my patience again, but there was still a tiny window open to dream of a vacation.

Then the bomb dropped.

My daughter announced that she was taking a semester off from her university studies in Florence to catch up with life and sanity. As I write this, she is sitting on a bus to Berlin, having handed over her apartment and packed up all her belongings for storage. She will live with me for the next few months and sort out her life. Where else is going to be safe enough to heal if not with her mother?

My initial reaction was to be selfish and wonder how on earth was I going to fit another person in my small space. I chose the apartment precisely because it was just right for my new solo life (well, me and the three cats), and never considered factoring in another person, except for occasional house guests. So over the Christmas holidays my brain churned constantly and I mentally moved the furniture around at least 1000 times to figure out how to accommodate my daughter’s moving in.

What makes this such a different situation than when she used to live at home? Well, the space constraint for one, and the fact that we will be flatmates in addition to being roommates. It is not just my daughter moving in, another adult to whom I will surrender my private space. That makes all the difference, and neither of us knows how it will work out, but we are looking forward to it. Mind you, in spite of the new arrangements, I still have space left for guests! The best thing we have going for us is that we are the best of friends, and that will help us through the tricky spots ahead.

Life sometimes has strange ways of coming up with solutions for our problems or fears. Shortly before Christmas I had major trouble with my blood pressure and was put on medication to tide me over the holidays. Not long after New Year my medication was changed to something stronger and I paid a visit to the cardiologist. It will be a long and uphill battle, with many hours spent in waiting rooms and examination tables, but at least I won’t be alone.

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