There are two questions that hack me off more than anything.
1) Are you dating ‘yet’?
2) Are you ‘still’ single?
As if being Solo (I prefer Solo to the demeaning single) is a bad thing and that to live your life to its fullest you have to have another half attached to you.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not a man hater and in time I do want to share my life with someone else.
But right now and for the past two years I haven’t. Once I got the idea into my head to leave my job, change my career and do these travels I have had absolutely no interest in being with anyone. I have had such laser focus on doing this that the last thing I needed was someone who could sway my thinking or change my mind – because once again I’d be giving up on doing what I want for someone else.
Being with someone else requires compromise and I get that. When I was with my ex we moved into a gorgeous house – one that was perfect for a dog. He knew I always wanted a dog – what he failed to tell me at any point in our relationship was that he didn’t. When the conversation came up he simply said No. There’s not much you can do about that is there? I couldn’t just turn up with a dog one day. It’s one of the reasons I decided to get Rex as soon as I got back from the sabbatical – it meant we came as a package.
A year or so ago someone posted up the meaning of love and relationships on Facebook; maybe it sounds a bit weird but literally everything on that meme was the relationship Rex and I have. He understands when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m literally at my lowest. He adapts his behaviour accordingly. He thinks I’m the best thing since (any) food and greets me every day with excitement (unlike a partner – well – not the ones I’ve been with anyway- bar one) and no sulks. He may try to make me jealous when he gives affection to others but he doesn’t cheat. He’s always up for a cuddle, going out or playtime, whatever I want to do he’ll do it – he doesn’t expect anything in return but food and playing football go a long way. And well I think that’s pretty cool.
When I went travelling in Malaysia / Borneo being Solo was easy. They’re totally used to the backpacking world out there – you don’t get any raised eyebrows at a table for one person; you’re not shoved near the toilet on a tiny table; people come and chat more to you.
Here in France I’ve had a couple of ‘Solo’ eyebrows. The first was at a restaurant. I needed to sit outside because of Rex. It was a table for four. The waiter was very reluctant to give me the table until I pointed out that basically every other table of four was taken up by couples leaving two seats – there’s not really any difference is there? Of course if anyone wanted to come and sit at my table they could. I was given a seat.
At another restaurant I was asked to move from the ‘posher’ bigger table of four to the table of four outside the entrance which was a tiny table. It meant Rex was closer to the road so actually he’d end up being more disruptive than where we were sat. And as it turned out nobody sat at that other table.
At a hotel I had twin beds. On the second day the pillows from the second bed were removed! Who’s to say I didn’t want to switch beds?! I have a dog that sleeps anywhere and like a typical dog owner I’d rather move than wake them up. And at home I sleep in a double bed and stretch across using every available pillow and space.
I posted my first restaurant ‘eyebrow’ on Facebook. I had a few comments. A Solo friend of mine is walking Hadrian’s Wall – a fabulous thing to do. She’s been charged a single supplement of £300!! You mean to tell me that having one other person would have cost that much in hotel rooms? Or that’s how much they’d have raised by having another person walk? Just get an extra room. Do hotels even do single rooms anymore?! She’s lucky not to have ended up on a camp bed for the inconvenience of being Solo.
And what really hacks me off about all of this is me – like her, like countless other Solo people is that WE CHOOSE TO BE. We’re not all hankering for the person who we’re going to spend the rest of our lives pandering to (and before that gets out of hand – let me be very clear, I have no issue with couples, relationships – indeed I am a huge huge believer in the sanctity of marriage and I do want to meet the right person and marry them one day). But right now I choose to be Solo. There’s no way I could be doing what I am doing now had I been in a relationship. I’d have carried on working in The City with the ex (or someone like him) living a relatively pointless and unworthy lifestyle that was only good for posting what a t*** I was on Facebook. And trust me – I do look back when the memories pop up on Facey and think exactly that.
Like in Malaysia I chose to come to France on my own.
I’m currently in Chablis. I’ve done two great tastings on my own which gave me the chance to ask lots and lots of questions without people rolling their eyes. I’ve had a late lunch and met a lovely couple from Nottingham who I chatted to for an hour or so. Yesterday I overheard some English people in Sancerre but I wasn’t in the mood to chat to them. I’ve spent much of my time in France taking photos of grapes. Bizarre to some but my choice. Everything I do is my choice (apart from when my four legged friend wakes me up to go out) and right now that’s what I want. So no more ‘still’; ‘yet’; ‘eyebrows’ please. I’m pleased I stood my ground at the restaurant and knowing a number of incredibly successful 40+ Solo friends we should do more to stop ‘Solophobia’ and yes – for goodness sake, if I ever do meet the man of my dreams who loves grape photos just as much as I do just shove this blog in my face.