As of August 28, 2012, I’ve been a bachelor for forty years. This was a big step for me since I had lived in boarding houses for the previous two years. This was because I attended a school with counselors tasked with helping visually-impaired students integrate into the public system.
On that summer afternoon in 1972, my mom accompanied me on the Greyhound bus from Fort Saskatchewan. When we arrived at the bus terminal in Edmonton, she called a taxi and gave the driver the address of the house I’d be living in.
As the cab came to a stop a while later, I liked the look of the tree-lined street and the large house that would be my residence. The landlady showed Mom and me a front parlor that had been converted into a suite. As I put my suitcases down in my new room, Mom paid the landlady the rent and damage deposit. After admonishing me about not making too much noise and cooking proper meals, she left.
I felt somewhat afraid of these new responsibilities as I unpacked my clothes. Mom’s constant fear about my wellbeing caused me to doubt my abilities. I wondered if I would lose this opportunity of freedom if I proved to be incapable of caring for myself. I vowed not to let that happen.
I decided to make some rice for supper. As I poured a cupfull into the pot, it didn’t seem like enough. I poured another cupfull in and turned on the burner. To my surprise, I ended up with far more rice than I could eat. Having already eaten some peas and wieners, I felt too full to eat what I had cooked.
I listened to my shortwave radio during the evening, remembering not to turn up the volume too high. Then I got ready for bed before eleven so that I would be properly awake the next day.
As I lay in bed, I heard yelling coming from the landlady’s suite. It went on past the deadline for noise as I tossed and turned. Finally the landlady and her drunken husband stopped arguing at about midnight and I was able to sleep.
Being on my own suited me well. I never felt the need for my meals to be cooked, though I did rely on Mom to do my laundry for another four years. I didn’t suffer malnutrition as Mom feared. In fact, I enjoyed buying what I wanted to eat and eating when I felt like. It gave me a sense of self worth like nothing I had experienced before.
Looking back on those years, I realized how Mom’s fears held me back. Doing laundry wasn’t a complicated matter as Mom indicated. Sweeping the floor and wiping the counters became easy for me as I spent time on my own. The way she treated me, one would assume I was a little boy, not a young man about to turn sixteen. None of the disasters she worried about befell me.
God willing, I’ll be looking after myself for many years to come. I enjoy my solitude and being free to do whatever I want whenever I want to. The Lord may indeed send me a special lady someday who wouldn’t treat me like an incontinent child. Only time will tell.
I’ve written about this and other experiences in my Deliverance from Jericho memoir. Check out the Bruce Atchison’s books page for details about it and my previous book, When a Man Loves a Rabbit.