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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

All by myself.

It is somehow apt that this post should mark the halfway point of the Thirty@30 experience. Challenge number fifteen is not one that I have chosen. It is not one that anyone has suggested. It is not, perhaps, an unusual challenge; millions of people all around the world do it every day. But for me, it is completely new. For the first time in my life, I am living on my own.

Aside from the fact that I neither drink nor own pyjamas, this is basically me...

I have had a few different living arrangements in my life. Home was mum and me, just the two of us for nigh-on eighteen years. Then university, where I had a small room in a beehive full of people my own age. After university, I worked two ski seasons in the French Alps, with trips to my mum and dad - respectively in Spain and London - in between. In France it was three girls to a room; the first time I had ever shared my sleeping space with anyone else for an extended period of time. When I moved back to London I took a room in the house of a friend. Then I moved in with my boyfriend. 

I suppose, technically, that I lived on my own when that relationship broke down, but I was already in love with Justin, and spent most of my time at his home. I never felt alone. Until, after nearly five years together, Justin moved out two weeks ago. This isn't the place for an evaluation of my relationship, but I need to state that this isn't Justin's fault. Or mine. It's just one of those stupid, inexplicable little disasters that happen along the way.

This is not a post about heartbreak, though right now my heart is broken. It has been broken before, and I suspect will break again, if I am granted life beyond the forthcoming end of the world, due in approximately twenty-four hours. I am writing this on December 20th, 2012. The Mayan calendar comes to an abrupt halt on the 21st, and there are people out there who are in possession of enough Spam and bottled water to survive the inevitable apocalypse. Personally, I have just purchased a box of FORTY TWO Ferrero Rocher, which I think will effectively serve the same purpose, as well as tasting considerably nicer than Spam. I have just eaten seven of them, but I'll slow down now. Honest. I will.


So, here I am, thirty years old, living all on my own for the very first time. For the record, my ability to inhale Ferrero Rocher is not a direct consequence of this alteration in my co-habitation status. It is a power I have always possessed, and of which I am inordinately proud. I can do the same thing with satsumas. Anyway, I'm rambling. This is the first time in a while that I've written anything other than an email or a to-do list.

I'm taking one day at a time. For the first week, I didn't look at my flat. I came in from work and kept my head down. I put the telly on and stared stupidly at it until it was time to go to bed. I cried a lot. I tried not to see the vacant picture hooks, coat hooks or shelves. I very definitely did not look in the wardrobe that I knew was empty. After a week, I finally got out the hoover and redistributed the books, and life stopped being quite such a blur. I started to notice the odd details of this life for one, which are, in no particular order:

  • Stuff lasts longer. Especially toilet paper.
  • I can choose whatever I want to watch on the telly. There's never anything good on.
  • When there is something good on, it’s kind of cruddy not to have someone to share it with.
  • I worry a lot about locking myself out of the house. Getting keys cut is unexpectedly expensive.
  • The laundry basket has become magically bottomless.
  • Late at night, when you’re half asleep, it’s difficult to remember that you’re alone in the bed.
  • I can make the bed beautifully without even pulling the duvet off. Score.
  • I can go a long time without talking to anyone, but most days will talk to myself at least once (OK, more than that.)
  • I am, however, doing a good job at not being scared of knife-wielding psychopaths hiding in the empty wardrobe.
  • A hot water bottle is a magical thing.
  • Christmas is not a great time for the newly single. Bah Humbug. I went Christmas shopping today and came back with a four-pack of wrapping paper and the aforementioned mega-box of Ferrero. No presents. Not a one.
  • It’s grand to have whatever you want for supper, but things don’t taste quite as good if you don’t have someone else to appreciate your cooking.
  • Being home alone is survivable. Arriving to an empty house feels, some days, like the Mayan end of the world.

I’ve just realised that this post kind of is about heartbreak. Sorry about that. I’m still in the very first phases of this solo living, and my observations probably bear no resemblance to the experiences of someone who has lived alone for a long time, or lives alone by choice. Maybe that is part of the point of writing this all down. For myself. For posterity. Every experience we have in this life is, at the end of the day, ours alone, even if we live with a family, a partner, a parent or a friend. Everyone sees and feels things differently. Which is why it’s so enriching to try new things for oneself. Even scary ones, Even lonely ones.

Who knows how long this particular challenge will last? Only time will tell, but possibly only another twenty hours and thirty-five Ferrero Rochers, if the Mayans have any say in it. If not, I’ll be back soon, probably significantly fatter, slightly crazier, and still without ever having eaten so much as a mouthful of Spam. And no, you can forget that idea right now. I draw the line at Spam. I'd prefer the apocalypse.

Fifteen down, fifteen to go…


  1. Bit of a bummer that the list's started writing itself, JoJo, but beautifully written. Keep safe.


  2. Difficult challenge, at any age I think, one day at a time and feel the love we send you!
    As Jennifer says, beautifully written.