Even though I'm married, there are times when I go places by myself. The store, the coffee shop, the library. Last night B was doing volunteer work at her church, so I decided to go to the movies. I do this occasionally when there's a movie I want to see that usually involves gore or violence or other disgusting things that she doesn't want to see on the screen any more than she wants to see in real life. (In this case a slasher film called Us which I do not recommend despite its 94% score on rotten tomatoes.)
I've had a running dispute with my daughter for years. She thinks going to the movies by yourself is for losers. I say going to the movies by yourself is the perfect thing to do, because all you do is sit there and watch the screen. What's the big deal about going with someone else if you're not even allowed to talk to them?
This is all preamble to a blog post I saw on Going Gently. What impresses me is that John, the author, and I are different on the surface. He is a single, gay British man. I am a married, heterosexual American man. Yet his advice seems relevant to my life and resonates on my emotional wavelength -- proving once again, doesn't it, that underneath we are all the same?
I asked him if I could pass on his wisdom to my American colleagues, and he said yes. The advice is important for people who are by themselves. But it's also relevant for those of us who have recently moved to a new location, who are looking for some new friends, who are finding that we're spending too much time at home.
So here it is, and as he says, "I hope this helps."
Yesterday Sue in Suffolk talked of her reticence about going to the cinema on her own. I wanted to share a few thoughts to singles ... add to the list please.
This past year I have done so many things alone. Things I used to do as part of a couple. Sometimes it's hard. And sometimes it's not.
I've always enjoyed going to the cinema on my own. I'm lucky in that respect, but everything else can be a trial, especially as you can be judged somewhat as being a singleton. Only last night I witnessed such a prejudice.
I had gone to see the stage production of Rain Man, which was okay, but not sparkling okay, and directly in front of me was another singleton like me, a man in his 60s. As he waited for the production to start he occupied his time reading a book, and the woman next to me noticed this and nudged her husband as if it was the oddest thing she ever saw.
I glared at her. She noticed my disapproval.
And so . . . just get out there and do it. And cinema is a great start as many singles go to the cinema, and cinema will lead to other activities, believe me. Here are a few helpful rules.
1. If you go to a cafe or restaurant always take a book, an iPad, laptop or your phone with you. You can look busy and industrious and generally it stops pitying glances.
2. Don't go to places you used to frequent with your hubby unless you are ready to do so. I still can't go to our fav Thai restaurant as it would be just too painful a journey even though I've been invited by friends. New places will provide you with a new strength.
3. Have a leap of faith! My first night at choir started off as an incredibly stressful moment, but after one of my fellow basses, a friendly tenor, and the mustached choirmaster broke the ice, I felt a whole lot better.
4. Do the single thing in bursts only. Buffer your "alone" nights out with friends and family. Things won't feel so hard to complete.
5. Pick talks and lectures and art activities as one-offs. If they don't suit, you can walk away easily, but if you enjoy them, you can always go back for more.
6. Plan things every week. Don't stay at home too much.
7. Do something worthy. Volunteer your time to something.
8. If someone asks you to do something, do it if you are up to it. Dave asked me to play badminton with him and initially I said no as I thought he was just being kind. He wasn't. And after I said yes, it was fun!
9. Don't underestimate the company of a dog in public.
10. Cry when you're upset and you need to. But try not to indulge . . .
11. Things go toes up all the time and so many married people just don't understand. So try not to get pissed off by them (even though it's hard).
12. Find a favorite place. I have Sheffield, Chester's Storyhouse, and Colwyn Bay Beach. Go there often.
13. See your friends, even if it costs too much to do so. I am seeing my friend Nu next weekend . . . my touchstone, my rock.
14. Even if you are like me, a slob . . . wash your face, wear your best Walking Dead t-shirt, and go out with your teeth brushed and hair combed.
I hope this helps.
-- John xxx