It’s been nearly three weeks since my last blog post, you know why? Cos I’ve actually been busy! I arrived back in Barcelona after my Menorca walk, had one night on my own then it began – socialising. After five weeks pretty much by myself 24/7, I called in on my cousin and her family in the foothills of the Pyrenees for a couple of nights. I had a wonderful easy time, like you can with family, we lay in the sun, swam, ate, drank and talked. Well, strictly speaking I talked and they listened.
After all that time with no one to talk to it just tumbled out, projectile chat. I knew I was doing it, I could hear these long, pointless anecdotes spewing out of me between mouthfuls of bread, while getting in the car, over the top of the kids requests for ice creams, but I couldn’t stop. I apologised to my cousin’s friend who I barely knew and who now knows an embarrassing amount about me (while I still hardly know her). Obviously I was already aware of my ability to go on a bit, I made a living doing just that for 20 years, But this was next level stuff.
After 48 hours of my banal and ceaseless badinage I took my leave and drove to Nice to meet my dear friend Nicki who was hit with phase two of my bout of banging on, less indiscriminate but still apparent. She listened to me on tbe beach, in the old town, even, in hushed tones, at the Matisse Museum (a must btw, what a creative genius that man was). By the time I got to Italy to meet my boyfriend I was just about back to normal (3 of my words to every 1 of his), but my gosh, I had no idea I’d been storing so much disjointed drivel up, a whole weeks worth!
What surprises me most about all that chat is that I wasn’t craving it. I honestly loved being on my own. I’ve thought about it a lot since and I still don’t know what to make of this love of solitude. I had the most amazing time in Italy – I can thoroughly recommend walking Cinque Terra and spending time at Lake Como (if it’s good enough for George Cloony…). After that I had two days walking in the Jura mountains near Geneva with my dear friend Miranda, and tomorrow I meet my sister for a camping adventure at Lake Annecy, which I’m really excited for. But having spent today on my own, the first time without company for three weeks, I realised just how happy ‘me time’ makes me.
I am deeply sorry for any upset that might cause my loved ones. It doesn’t mean the time with you isn’t precious and much, much needed and valued, it’s just become apparent that time alone feeds me in a different way. I never knew this because I’d never spent five weeks in solitude, I’d had no comparison. But today as I went to the lauderette, had a picnic lunch and did some admin I could feel a joy in me that only comes from being in my own company.
I wondered if perhaps I am a narcissist, but they crave admiration and care overly about their appearance. As I sat watching the Primark loungewear (for loungewear read pyjamas) that I’ve worn for most of this trip turn over in the washing machine I realised that isn’t me.
An answer might lie in something that happened to me last summer. On the 29th August I had an epiphany, a strange and euphoric crashing of emotions that I realised was self love. Yeah I know, I sound bonkers, but it happened and I’m still in the honeymoon period. To love yourself doesn’t mean you think you’re brilliant or gorgeous (see narcissist), it’s actually the opposite (or is for me). It means I can see my weaknesses and my flaws and love myself anyway. I am kind to myself when I mess up rather than blaming myself. I am my own cheerleader championing the underdog, and all that pom pom action must be working cos I’m starting to feel like I’m winning at life.
I may not have been the best traveller on this trip (I got too drunk to sightsee Barcelona, and went to Geneva and only saw a lauderette) but I have made some discoveries. I have a week to go until I’m back in Brum, job hunting and moaning about the bin strike with everyone else. I don’t know if there will be more personal revelations or not, but I’m going to enjoy every last minute of it because I doubt I’ll ever get another two months to myself like this.