quirkyalonen. (as defined by Cagen in Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics): A person possessing unique traits and an optimistic spirit who enjoys being single—but is not opposed to being in a relationship—and generally prefers to be alone rather than date for the sake of being in a couple. See also: romantic, wistful idealist, independent.
PW: How widespread is the quirkyalone movement?
Sasha Cagen: Quirkyalone got its start in To-Do List, which is the independent magazine I started. We have distribution nationwide but we have a lot of local distribution here in the San Francisco Bay area. Because quirkyalone got started here, there's a lot of consciousness about it here, but the idea is spreading. There have been parties in New York and Providence and Glasgow, and I think this year, with the celebration of International Quirkyalone Day, more people are going to have gatherings at local cafés and bars.
PW: Speaking of International Quirkyalone Day, why did you choose to celebrate it on Valentine's?
SC: When the idea was first published, we had joked about International Quirkyalone Day taking place on Valentine's because it's the time when people so desperately crave an alternative to the consumerist, make-you-feel-bad-whether-you're-in-a-relationship-or-not holiday that Valentine's has become. Quirkyalone is a celebratory idea, so it seemed natural to take that day and turn it into a celebration of all kinds of love.
PW: How did you define the term quirkyalone?
SC: It was a process of sitting down and looking at my own life and thinking about why it was that I had been single for so much of my life up until age 25, when I first wrote the piece. I also looked at characters in television shows and movies, and I had conversations with friends. There was never a sense that this was going to grow beyond my friends or the independent magazine community, but as it went out in the world, people of all different ages, locations and relationship status started to respond to it.
PW: When did you realize this concept had spawned a movement?
SC: I started to Google the term "quirkyalone" a few months after the essay originally appeared and I saw that a minister at a Presbyterian church in San Francisco had used the idea in a sermon to talk about broader visions of love. And then online communities started to pop up. It started in 2000 and the momentum just never let up.
PW: Why do you think it caught on so quickly?
SC: I think there's been a massive emergence of people who fit this category within the last 10 to 20 years. We're at a major transition point in society with the way that we think about singledom, relationships and marriage, and people are vastly hungry for new and alternative ways of thinking about it.
PW: The book has a very unusual format. Were you aiming to make it somewhat "quirky"?
SC: I felt like it had to have that quirky format or it wouldn't be quirkyalone. It's also not the way that I like to write. I like to write in a modular way, with quick bursts of ideas and sketches and interviews. There are so many dreary books about being single out there. I really wanted to create something that had a spirit of fun.
PW: What do you want people to take away from this book?
SC: I want them to have an understanding of what a quirkyalone is, and I want them to be able to go home for Thanksgiving and be single and feel empowered knowing that they're not the only ones who are single and in their 30s. Obviously, we know that's statistically true, but it's easy to get bogged down by everything we hear about being single.