When I plan time alone in my head I have visions of my bathroom turning into a kind of five star luxury spa and me into a hair-flipping sex and the city-esque glamour puss. On that subject I once had a glamour puss note pad with a fluffy pink and sliver cover, I didn’t like writing in it because I didn’t want to use it up- I should have known then that I’d never been carefree enough to be SJP. I imagine it with that light behind me that demonstrates that a miracle is happening in a film.
The reality is more an album on repeat on Spotify, endless tweeting, whatsapping and being bored after 17 minutes. I sometimes fill my time by having a nap, cleaning until I’m red faced and sweaty or washing my hair. It’s not that I don’t like my own company- at uni I got quite good at loving it when I was up hours before any of my friends thanks to my inability to lie in effectively even after enough vodka to make the memory of my Carlito’s chicken burger hazy. Just in case you’re reading this from my University home of Liverpool, Carlito’s is a smashing takeaway. now, I’ve never seen the actual food making area but it hadn’t been closed down in the four years I used it and they say ignorance is bliss. They used to do a pizza and a chicken fillet burger with chips and two cans of coke for six fifty. Delivered. Now I’d never been very slim but no bloody wonder I piled on the timber during those glorious days of enriching education!
Those years where I had nowhere to be before 11:00am I was up and about no matter what I’d been doing or how tired I was and I thought I’d become fantastic at being alone after growing up in a house where there was always someone else in (not a bad thing- we were like the Braidy Bunch). Speaking of my family, I truly think that the thing I am most proud of in my lifetime was our winning Family of the Week at a Haven caravan park a couple of hours from home. I think it annoyed my parents that they’d tracked across the world to Florida every year since my brother and I were young and our favourite holiday was a cheap break to a site that had a tiger as their poster-boy. We got a paw shaped trophy and a return break one weekend, but most valuably a title that I still throw around when I feel like a bit of a brag.
At uni I’d spend my free time wisely, of course. I’d wander round in pyjamas, I’d dye my hair, eat (I made amazing cheese and baked bean tastiest in my contraband in-room toaster), I’d tidy, I’d wander up to tesco for biscuits or other junk. I’m starting to think, though, that my social media shaped safety net was what kept me so happy as secretly I flicked though lesbian mags (not because I was gay, of course, they were just more interesting than Heat or Cosmopolitan. Oh and because I was obviously a massive closet case. That’s why I bought a second copy of the 2010 sex edition of Diva when I misplaced the first. I kept that for years after until my ex tore it up in a rage, clearly knowing exactly how to hurt me.)
Last weekend I embraced my friends being too busy for several different reasons to join me in the city. This was it. I’d watch things going on, silently. I’d learn and I’d take in and I wouldn’t miss anything because I was inanely chattering. I’d even planned on going into the museum for a peruse of artefacts and a treat in the gift shop. But I ended up nattering to complete strangers and lonely; hand glued to my phone. And the museum didn’t open until late, it being Saturday, so I missed that too.
I’m great on my own in a group, if that makes any sense at all. A few years ago I met my new girlfriend’s friends. I was nervous- what if they didn’t like me? I might not be what they’d expected, they might think she could do better. A few hours later I was chattering like I’d known them my whole life. I hardly managed to speak to the only people I’d known only hours before until we left for a club. I credit myself with being personable, and it’s handy. But why do I get so fidgety when I’m properly alone?
I started writing this, of course, before a three day long paddy that happened this week. I can’t say why I was like a walking storm cloud but everything was annoying the shit out of me. Everything annoying me was annoying me. People were annoying me. My phone annoyed me. Emails from those bargain offering sites that try to tempt you into booking a bargain spa break that can only me taken Monday to Wednesday within a three week window were annoying me. It was ridiculous. I was almost silent for 2 evenings in a row, only responding with a shrug when I was asked what was the matter. I didn’t bloody well know. I suppose during that long bad mood I enjoyed my own company, in a way.
But why are we so bothered about our own company anyway? Female pandas spend the majority of their lives alone in the same area; meeting males only for mating purposes. Their babies live alongside the. For two years before they find their own patch of land or, if sons, roam around finding females to mate with. Humans are rather more sociable. We live, like chimps, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, in groups. Maybe it’s the animal kingdom’s way of telling us that it’s okay not to like being alone, despite what Pinterest tells us. As I write this, I should point out that I’m in the front room, curtains drawn and my girlfriend and the cat and dog around me. All asleep, but all here.