Sunday, November 8, 2015

Solo in the Third Third

I’ve got Tim.

I’m married to him, and that changes my Third Third dramatically. I have two sisters, both single, and at least one of them has a whole different reaction to the notion of retirement because she’s single. Even the prospect of travel planning changes when you don’t have a ready-made travel partner. Even remodeling options change when you don’t have a spouse who’s measuring, cutting, painting, and nailing in all the molding on the new floor.

I would not be sitting here figuring out my future if I didn’t have a husband. I’d be at my job.

One sister lives alone in her single-family home. The other lives in a large, woman-occupied building with two roommates. When I think of the issues we’ve been having lately with my mother – her anxiety at being alone – I think of how we may have to re-structure our living situations in our Third Thirds.

As our neighborhood on Long Island became increasingly the domain of widows, I tried to convince my mother to get together with her best friends and all move in together. “I don’t want anyone else in my kitchen,” my mother said. So now they’re all anxious about living alone.
Aging hippie that I am, I’ve lived in housing with lots of folks. Then we bought three flats in one building and all lived there. Anchorage even has a co-housing arrangement that broke ground. I’ve always thought it was nutty for every household to have a washer and dryer, and as we get older, there are even more reasons to share space.

But you have to be willing to share. Maybe even your kitchen.
Back to Tim. He’s younger than I am, which increases the chances that I’ll die first. Lucky me! Seriously, when we look at our Third Thirds, we have to know that whatever’s in place now may not be in place later. The best retirement plans in the world can shatter with the death of a spouse, not to mention divorce.

My friend Judith recently traveled with her sister. Her sister almost jokingly described it as a practice trip for when they were both widows. I take a road trip a year with one sister, and one circle of women friends is looking at the Chilkoot Trail for next summer. But I understand what my one sister is saying: it’s the planning for the Third Third that benefits from a partner, a life partner.

I keep telling Tim we need a “theme” for our Third Third (so much so that’s he’s probably thinking how much easier his Third Third would be if he didn’t have me in my Third Third at the same time). What I mean is a theme we craft together. (With a life partner, that planning involves negotiation – something the singles don’t have to accommodate – but that’s the subject of a different post.)

I’m a pretty independent sort. I do what I want, don’t need Tim to accompany me, and am ready to try New Things. I’ve been toying with the notion of spending a year in New York or London without Tim. But that still means we’d confer on logistics, resolve finances, and communicate with each other. We’d still be partners, and in a crisis, we’d be on the next plane.

When I was younger, I used to say that having a boyfriend meant I didn’t have to fret about New Year’s Eve. In my Third Third, my sister points out that I don’t have to think about who my emergency contact is or who will hold my health care proxy.

And this doesn’t even get to the issues of those who, Oops, forgot to have kids.

1 comment:

  1. Thought you might like this:
    Dorms for Grownups
    Are “microunits” with shared spaces for cooking, eating, and hanging out a good solution for lonely Millennials?


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