Although I’ve been single for about a year and a half I still sleep on “my side” of the bed. At the moment, in the space where an other half used to be, I have two workshop manuals, the crossword, and Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Travel, and the knowledge to make it possible.
There are lots of things to miss about my previous life. There’s the benefits pointed out in When Harry Met Sally: “You guys were a couple. You had someone to go places with. You had a date on national holidays.” There’s massive comfort in knowing that there is one person out of everyone in the world whose job it is to be concerned with my wellbeing. To make me a cup of tea when I get home, and to bring me magazines and chocolates when I feel ill. But that’s lazy too. The person whose main responsibility it is to look out for my welfare ought to be me. Anything else should be a bonus. (Though I must add at this point that I am blessed in my amazing friends who do look out for me, all the time.)
There are benefits in being single too.
Last week we had the final RBR event of the season – the Conkers camping weekend and barbecue. Jim brings his caravan, his superior coffee machine and his large awning. Viv cooks up a storm, and Ian and Carol make bacon butties for breakfast. Graham checks photos so those seeking a 100% allrounder have a chance to remedy any mistakes. It’s a fantastic weekend. And this year was the first year I was able to enjoy it fully. The first year I was with someone who made it clear that he was desperate to leave from the moment we pitched the tent. Last year I was having immense job stress and had to leave early in Sunday morning to meet a deadline. This year I had no worries and a wonderful time.
One of the new faces was discussing whether he’d go for a 100% all rounder again next year. The problems of making time for family events, other hobbies, and keeping a non-riding partner happy argued against. And these are the things that I no longer have to worry about. Love might mean never having to say you’re sorry, but being single means I never have to say “do you mind if…”
If I want to commit to riding to Shetland for the Simmer Dim I can do it. If it seems sensible to me to ride for 10 days in Scotland on the Old Farts Tour, and I have enough annual leave in the bank, I can take those days without having to negotiate. And if I want to spend a large amount of wedge flying to Australia for Christmas, hiring a bike and exploring a new continent, that’s just peachy.
Some people will think this sounds terribly lonely. And on a bad day it is. But on a good day the only thing that stands between me living the life I want, the way I want to, is whether I’m brave enough to get out there.
And that’s worth a little loneliness.