Last week, I went out. A normal event you might think. But other than trips to the supermarket (so much easier on my own than with 3 small people in tow!), I have been out on my own only a handful of times in the past five years. Otherwise I have been with a baby, a toddler, a husband, a mother, a friend, or any assortment thereof. Totally on my own, just a few times.
And I didn't just go to a local cafe, oh no, I went to The Big Smoke. On a train. On my own. In my past lives this would not have been a big deal, nowadays it is. Usually, even if I'm in London for work, there is a small coterie waiting nearby for me. This time I was solo. I was actually nervous!
It seemed ridiculous, fretting about where to go, who to meet, what to wear. Normally, London trips are a frenzy of piling everyone, and seemingly everything they own, plus enough snacks to feed an army, into the car. My only consideration to clothing being, what's clean?
I lived, worked and studied in Bloomsbury for years, lived and studied in the East End, worked in Mayfair for years more, started going 'up to town' for days out from commuter-belt Buckinghamshire from an early age, yet here I was planning my route, worrying about how busy it would be, how to get round stations I knew like the back of my hand.
Other thoughts crowded in. Would Steve be OK managing on his own? Would the girls be OK? Would Tatiana be desperate to be fed, and screaming? I even thought about cancelling the event I was going to, and the friend I was meeting. But I pushed on. I put on the confident aura, I put on a bit of make-up and some OK-to-go-out-in clothes, gritted my teeth, and went.
And do you know what, it was all fine. I coped. They coped. I missed them. They missed me. They looked really tiny when I got home. We hugged, a lot. And do you know what, I even enjoyed myself a little bit.
The weirdest thing was not having anyone to talk to. A couple of times I nearly blurted out a comment on the book I was reading to the person sitting next to me on the train, and then remembered that I didn't know them. I don't think I've been on my own with no-one to speak to for over five years! When I'm at home on my own I chat to the cats if no-one else is around, I'm hardly ever entirely on my own. A very odd realisation. To not speak aloud for nearly three hours was most peculiar.
It must have been OK though; I'm doing it all again next week.