I used to love living alone. I only did it for a short period of time, but it was one of the best times in my life. I was 21 and in the throes of my senior year of college. I had no money: I sold plasma twice a week for grocery money and to pay my utility bills and I survived on mostly coffee, peanut butter & celery, and the occasional loaf of garlic bread. I lived in the basement apartment of a 100-year-old house with creaky pipes, terrible insulation, and the biggest, deepest, claw-footed bathtub you have ever seen, I basically lived in that bathtub, especially when it was freezing cold in the winter and the ancient heater couldn’t get the temperature in the apartment above 62 degrees. I lived alone because I wanted to and it was awesome.

Now, close to a decade later, living alone is completely different. I’m nearly 30 years old and both college and graduate school seem like an eternity ago. I am lucky to have at least a modest amount of disposable income. I have a good job that is mostly interesting and which affords me the ability to travel and to live comfortably. Aside from an admittedly unhealthy love of Annie’s mac-n-cheese, and bacon, (although not generally together), my diet has much improved. I live in a kind of weird but charming house and I traded that gorgeous claw-footed tub for one of the newer and jetted variety. But perhaps the biggest difference in my life now is that this time, I don’t live alone by choice. I live alone because in order for my husband and I to both have fulfilling careers, in order for us to be able to work in our chosen field together someday, we have to be apart now.

It’s a choice we did not make lightly. We agonized about it for months before we finally pulled the trigger. But just because it was a choice doesn’t make it any easier. Living alone this time isn’t as much fun. Yes, I can watch trashy reality TV without my husband mocking me from the other room. And yes, I can sleep right in the middle of the bed and hog all the blankets. I do both of those things, practically daily. But I still wish he were here. It’s just not the same this time around.