Monday, September 16, 2013

Single Retirement-The Safety Thing

Last night, I went to see David Bromberg in concert.  My brother had purchased tickets and my sister in law had a work commitment. If you have  chance to see David, I encourage you to do so!  This concert was amazing.  In midlife, David has moved from the guitar and also does violin making and encourages young artists. This best part of this  concert was the young violin player-absolutely stunning, and I am a huge fan.

The concert was in Denver's Oriental Theater.  While there is no official parking, there is plenty of street parking-on the road and in the  lots of businesses that close.  I did not go alone, but for much of the walk back to my car, I was separated from others, and I was walking on a dark semi urban (albeit) residential area.  I was alert and careful and experience was positive.

As a single person, I am not necessarily one who only goes out in groups.  I travel alone, and often go out to dinner or an event while on the road-alone.  I go to movies and the like alone (by choice).  I often meet people in a part of downtown, and end up going to and from and in the car alone.  I have ridden the metro alone both in Washington DC and in Germany.  I've found a level of comfort and safety that (mainly works for me)

Before I decided to move in with my sister, I lived alone (I had a son that spent the nights there on occasion, but for two years he was far away and I was on my own). For most of my life since 1977 I had not lived alone.  I was a single parent for three years before my second marriage, and there were occasions when my husband went skiing that I was alone in the house-with multiple kids, and their multiplying groups of friends. So when I first became a widow, I was VERY unsettled. I was jumping at every sound. I also was not sleeping, and distracted-a mixture of fear, grief and discomfort that was difficult to separate.

Since my widowhood in 2006, I have lived alone half the time. The rest of the time I have lived semi alone-with children theoretically present, but who were independent and did their own thing.   I've managed to become very comfortable doing that, as well as going out alone, traveling alone and doing other things alone (more on that later). I don't live in a gated community, but mixed use suburb of all ethnicity and incomes.  In fact, my five year plan is looking more and more like that condo on capitol hill where I can leave my car behind (this is not news to my sister by the way-we committed to five years).

I am not superwoman. I no longer can sprint (although I remember the days of getting off my nursing shift and getting into sneakers so that I could "run" if I had to.) I might have the wherewithal to step on someones foot or I might not. I don't care a gun, and never will (a personal choice, not a judgement call).  I don't have a security system (although I am not opposed to the idea).

I am not an expert on single retirement, or on being safe. I only know that I will not be a person who refuses to go out after dark (unless it is because of my terrible night driving skills) or turns down a social engagement out of fear. I also am not willing to be one of those people who checks the door every waking hour.  Still, I want to use common sense.

To that end, this is what I have learned and what works for me.  Most of what I do I learned from folks who shared homes or had significant others and is not necessarily single specific.
  • I have two dogs, they park and I encourage it-within reason.  Yes, occasionally I have to board them (not every trip is dog friendly), and yes, I have to have a yard to have dogs.  Still, they are a huge early warning system.  And one is big and black and folks who knock on the door don't need to know that they would get a tongue bath if they came through the door.
  • I have two front doors. The inner door is a traditional front door. The outer door is a "storm door" that has a movable screen-and locks.  This means I don't have to be a "poke my head out the side window curtain kind of person". I can open the front door and feel confident.  And of course then I have those puppies to back me up.
  • I always walk with a purpose, and rather than ignore people when I walk by them, I smile and look into their eyes.  Although my knee has improved, I still use a cane for night outings-especially when walking on crappy pavement-so that I don't fall. I walk normally and am in control of the cane. I try to act like I belong, even when I don't.
  • As a single person, I have a good car and I keep it in excellent condition. Other than a flat tire (not likely) my car is not going to break down on the highway. If it does, we live in the age of technology and I would simply sit in the car until the correct person came.
  • I "phone home" each night when I travel the open road (I am big on not making reservations but seeing what the days bring.) If I were an itinerary person, I would not bother. If my sister were not moving in, I would join a group of friends who alternate phone calls-one comes in in the morning and one goes out to another people at night.
  •  I've decided that life is meant to be lived. I don't have the social life of a twenty year old and may only have one or two evening plans every week or so. On those occasions though, I don't require someone else be in the car with me, or that we only do daytime things. I want to be able to go out when I do go out. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of situations when I share rides (such as last night). I just don't want my ability to do that to affect everything else in my life.
  • Finally (and this is more of a common sense than a safety issue I suppose), I am "prepared". More on this soon. I've lived through a minor flu epidemic, the blizzard of the century, been home alone with the "I can barely crawl to the bathroom" flu, been stranded after a hurricane and had other disasters.  While I have family and friends near by, I want to know that if they can't make it, I will be okay.   
Living alone can be an adjustment, especially if you have lived as a group or a couple for a long time, but for me at least, there is no reason to allow fear to keep you from doing what you want to do.  More on that prepping stuff, soon.


  1. I love all your posts, Barb. This one resonates particularly well as I celebrate my 65th birthday on Friday. I refuse to stop living.

    1. Thanks, and Happy birthday. In the near future Ineed to bend your ear about your Arizona spot, and if you knew single folk there.......

  2. Birthdays are good! And like you I do have to drive more sedately after dark-it has to do with that glare from the oncoming cars.

  3. Thanks for the excellent advice. As a man I sometimes get complacent . . . but shouldn't. Just please be thoughtful about your dogs. (We have one dog who's a great watch dog, but who would run for her life before she actually protected us). But I once (2003-07) lived in a townhouse where the woman next door brought in two big, loud, aggressive dogs who terrorized anyone who walked by her front door -- and who drove me, as the next-door neighbor, up the wall. We all love our dogs, but we can't let them disrupt the lives of our neighbors. (You can see, I'm still unnerved by that experience -- the women finally left, which was one of the happiest days of my life.)

    1. Well.......ah.....I am in a house, but yes, the dogs do bark if people walk by in the street and especially if someone is walking in the street. That's if the blinds are open. I dont have a huge problem with that as long as they stop once I say "stop", and when we are not home the blinds are closed.

  4. Good for you. The dog thing is particularly good. Every time I hear ex-burglars interviewed they say they avoid the houses with the dogs. Unfortunately, we have 3 which is more like a pack and very inconvenient if we want to travel but in addition to the safety factor, they also provide much amusement and love.


    1. I have a two friends who foster and rescue and I am constantly forcing myself to stop from raising my hands. My dogs do well boarding together in the same room, but I prefer to take them with me.


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