Historically, I haven’t been very good at doing things on my own. I don’t mean spending time on my own; I’m very good at that. I mean, doing things alone. If I needed to buy a new TV, I would ask everybody in my immediate family what they thought. Career decisions would be agonised over with MindReader listening patiently. I would arrange to meet friends prior to going out for drinks, so I wouldn’t be going there alone.
I don’t really know why I did these things. I read something once which really resonated with me:
“For her, the taste of the ice cream, the red of the sunset, the humor in the movie must be shared to be.” – Elizabeth Berg
This is definitely how I used to feel about the world, why I have always, always, lived with somebody. I may spend a reasonable amount of time on my own, but I tell a lot of people (my parents, MindReader, DoctorSister and BestFriend always, but often more people) about the things I have done on my own.
I was always slightly in awe of people who got on with things on their own. MindReader is one such person. He could board a train to somewhere strange, stay in random hotels, and when I called him, he would answer his phone and tell me that he was fine, that there was nothing to report. A few months ago, I would’ve told him about the smell of the train, about the ticket barrier not letting me through, about how I like the idea of hotels but not the reality (yes, I was boring). The idea of buying a car, and telling my family I had bought a car, not that I was going to buy a car oddly thrills me.
A few weeks ago, I had to travel for work to a big city I’ve never been to. Some of my other colleagues were travelling from Birmingham, too, but I wanted to drive. So I drove there, found the place myself, parked the car, walked to the building, and went on a night out, stay over someplace foreign, and drove back alone the next day, with nothing but my music and the hum of the car keeping me company. Totally normal. Nothing special. Except it was.
This freedom, this alone-ness has infiltrated every area of my life. I like to do things sometimes at lunch on my own. Often, i meet friends or MindReader, but recently I’ve been doing other things. Going to the library, going on a walk to Chinatown or finding some fountains to gawk at. And I’ve been not telling anyone. Sometimes, the people in my life who I telephone all the time (the above list) will call me, and I will say, “oh, I’ve just been in Brindley Place,” – like, I was free to talk, but I decided to do something all by myself, for me.
This is new.