I often travel or eat on my own. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy, it’s a side-effect of attending events away from home, which I often have to do.
It’s also something I’ve always done throughout my life, when I was single or in a relationship. I’ve never minded going to the cinema on my own, for instance. This was something my sister would never do. For her it was a social event to be shared, so she never went to the cinema solo. I got into the habit as a teenager because there were always movies I wanted to see, and not always someone to accompany me. I never thought to deny myself the pleasure of seeing a movie because I didn’t have a companion.
Sure, I often prefer to have someone with me to discuss a film, to help negotiate unfamiliar cities, or to chat to over lunch, but I can make my own way and my own entertainment. There are times when being on my own is lonesome, when I miss Martin, or feel isolated. Smartphones have made it all a lot easier. Now, I can read books on an app, IM or text someone while in a café on my own. I particularly enjoy taking photographs. I like capturing the ordinary beauty which is around us all the time.
And sometimes I put down the phone, and experience the moment fully. I accept the awkwardness and the squirm of pathos without using the small screen to shield my solitude.
It is then the true test occurs. Can I be content and without distraction?
Sometimes. In those moments the world rushes in and I observe it and my place in its intricate movement. Loneliness eases and peace replaces it.
And if nothing else, I often get a good photo.
From the top: a photo of a goldfish in a London restaurant, a carafe of water from a Galway café, and irises in a Galway restaurant – all taken on solo expeditions.