After a friend hadn’t been able to contact 55-year-old Roger Perkins for days, the friend finally asked police to check on him. Inside Perkins’ home — which is about a mile from where I live in Leeds, Ala. — they found him dead, apparently from natural causes. He was last known to be alive sometime in March. The coroner’s office is seeking family members to whom his body can be released. Stories such as this one are chilling to me, because I also live alone and have no family. The fact that this story is about someone who lived so close to me makes it seem especially real. I just wonder if his outcome might have been different if he had lived with someone who could have called for help. Nobody needs to die alone — and I’m not so sure that living alone is such a good idea. Everybody needs to be with someone who loves him.
Does a bigger house make people happier? Based on housing trends, you would assume so. The average size of U.S. houses keeps going up and up and up. I know plenty of people — individuals and couples — who own houses that are several thousand square feet or larger. Many of them are filled with empty rooms, but at least the houses look impressive to the neighbors, right? A new study shows that a bigger house does not necessarily make people happier, but it also shows that people tend to become unhappy when someone else builds a bigger house near them, presumably because this makes them feel less successful. Personally, I would rather have a house of reasonable size that’s well-designed and built using quality craftsmanship, as opposed to the cookie-cutter design and shameful construction quality of most houses today. I would far prefer this 1,650-square-foot home (above) than a 4,000-square-foot monstrosity of a McMansion. Years ago, I discovered Kelly Davis, the architect who designed the house above and talked with him about building a house for me one day. He was based in Minneapolis, but could work anywhere in the country. A huge house won’t make you happy, but a house that’s just right for you just might. And I would prefer to have it on the middle of a piece of property where I can’t seen the neighbors and they can’t see me. Comparing yourself to the neighbors doesn’t lead to anywhere good.
I just went from joy to bitter disappointment in the space of seconds. I had an exciting idea, but it was something I needed feedback and discussion about. I wanted to turn to a trusted partner and say, “What do you think about this?” But I felt deflated because there was no one there. I recently shared with you how much I miss having someone to take care of, but I also strongly miss having a partner who’s there to listen and to help me plot how we can move forward in life together. The best marriages are sort of a “mutual aid society,” an arrangement by which each person is fully committed to helping the other become the best he or she can be. It was actually so late tonight when I had this thought that a partner might very well have been asleep already. But it would have been enough to say to myself, “We can talk about that tomorrow” — if I knew someone cared and wanted to be part of that conversation with me. I miss that kind of relationship. Doesn’t everyone need this?