Mellie no mates?…No matter!


When I was younger, much younger, I would never have dreamt of going out on my own. As a teenager I wouldn’t even go into town on a Saturday on my own, I had to have a mate. Then I grew up a bit and had children so being on my own was pure luxury. Teletubbies was the only way I could even go to the loo without a band of merry anklebiters to accompany me. Sometimes I would snatch a hour or two to have a solitary walk around the shops when I got the chance but that was pretty much it. Then I grew up a bit more and had a bit more time to myself and although I enjoyed my own company, there were things that I would never consider doing alone. I would never walk, go on a bike ride or go to an art gallery alone. I would never, ever go to the cinema alone. I would never, ever, ever, go into a pub, order a drink and sit down, on my own.

But now I am a changed woman! I know that I am not a ‘single woman’ as such, but I do live a large portion of my life without having to check in with or answer to a significant other and I am embracing all of the best bits of being single. Now, sometimes, I do all of these things and more, alone.

OK, I admit, the going into a pub bit is just while waiting for others to join me, I’ve not quite got to solitary drinking yet! But even a year ago I would always be just a little bit late so I wasn’t the first one in the pub. Now I don’t care. I’ve even been chatted up! It’s nice to know I’ve still got it…or is it that a woman on her own in a pub still gives off a certain message? Anyway, the point is I’m not scared any more.

And going to the cinema alone in the afternoon is a secret guilty pleasure. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to chat about the film afterwards with a pal, but having that someone sitting next to you is not a prerequisite to enjoying the film. Matt and I have never been good cinema buddies. I don’t do Bladerunner and he doesn’t do Dior & I. Consequently I have missed so many films over the years that I have wanted to see because I have not found anyone to go with. Now I just go, and who would have thought…there are others who are solo in the cinema too. It’s not just me, there are loads of us! We all sit with a decent number of seats between us – we are British after all and personal space needs to be respected, right? But at the end when the lights go up some of us exchange smiles or pleasantries or mutual embarrassment at tear stained cheeks after a weepy.

Tomorrow night I am going on a Hidden Mysteries Tour of Brighton. I am going with 9 other people. I have never met any of them. I may get murdered, after all isn’t that what we tell our children about meeting up with strangers from the interweb! But I probably won’t get murdered. I will probably have a really interesting evening doing something I would never have done if I had faffed around trying to find someone to go with.

Of course I still love to be sociable. I love going out to restaurants and bars with Matt or with groups of friends. I love a good party and I have a big disco-dancing filled evening with a bunch of friends to look forward to on Saturday night. But I am responsible for my own happiness, I can’t sit festering at home waiting for the weekends I go to Madrid or for the phone to ring with an offer of a quick drink. And this is good practice for when I get to Madrid and I have to build my own life there. I’m definitely not going to be the little lady waiting for her man to get home from work (sorry Matt!). I’m going to be off, out doing stuff….sometimes on my own.

The Language Barrier

The best bits about moving to Spain will be:

a) living with Matt again

b) the food and drink

c) the new experiences and places to visit

d) mastering a new language

Now, the first three things are great, easy, enjoyable etc. But d) …  mastering a new language. Hmm. I don’t think so! Mastering is far too strong a term. If I can learn to just get by in Spanish I will be thrilled, proud of myself even. It’s so crazily hard to learn a new language at my age, but try I must. I really don’t want to be one of the Brits-abroad-who-can’t-be-bothered  crowd. Anyway, it’s Madrid I’m off to, not the Costa del Expat. Some people speak English in Madrid but certainly not everybody and it’s crucial that I try really, really hard to communicate in Spanish or I will find my world a very small and very insular place.

But here I am, eighteen months after my first Spanish lesson, still feeling such a fool when trying to construct the most basic of sentences. In my head I have wonderful conversations with myself in what I think is almost fluent español. I have even dreamt in Spanish but in real-true-life Confidence sits on my shoulder mocking me as I try to give some order to the jumble of words swirling around my mouth. I hear what comes out and I surprise myself with the ghastliness of it all!!

Still, I have to believe those who tell me that it will be easier when I am living here. When I hear Spanish all around me, all day, every day. There is a lovely lady called Ana who looks after Matt’s building. She is there every weekday morning doing porter/cleaning duties. She speaks not one word of English. We have wonderful, nonsensical conversations. She smiles and encourages my attempts. It will come, poco a poco, little by little, she tells me. You just need to come to Spain more often. Es verdad! It’s true. I do need to go more often. Over the next six months I will try to go as much as possible and if I can just get Confidence to stop mocking me and start to cheer me on who knows what I can achieve. Even at my age!