A friend sent me an email a few days ago, from a bar in Spain. Vina Sol in hand, computer on lap, pretending to look busy. Being single and in a position where she can take 6 weeks holiday every summer (teachers, tsk) she chose to flee to warmer climates and soak up some Mediterranean sun.
So far so good.
On this day, however, she felt a little forlorn. Feed up with pretending to look busy and wondering if, perhaps, situations such as this would be better off shared with somebody else. Pondering the idea that the freedom of holidaying alone and doing whatever you want might be over-rated and that going away with a boyfriend, even a bad one, was better than lying by a pool reading an article about Kim Kardashian’s toenail in OK! magazine for the 4th time, in an attempt to avoid the pitiful gaze of smug couples passing by.
It’s a tricky one. being alone at home is one thing, there are distractions, and the familiarity and routine serves well to mask any absences there may be. A holiday alone, however, will do the opposite. Time alone to drink and think. It takes a confident woman to do it, and it is for this reason I didn’t dismiss her temporary loneliness.
Her first mistake was the location. Nothing like ordering a plate of calamari and a jug of Sangria for one in Marbella to make you feel shit about yourself. A place where the average age in any bar is 24, half the cast of TOWIE have set up camp for August and if you’re not a size 6 you’ve got a weight problem. What next, for pity’s sake, LA?
One of the fabulous things about being in your 30’s is that, unless you are Alicia Duvall, there is more to life than diamonte bikinis. That, God willing, striking up a conversation in a bar with a stranger will lead to more than a 4 hour chat about how whether Arg and Lydia will get back together. (For those of you who have no idea who they are, I salute you, and, please, enjoy your state of ignorance.) I like a Mojito on a sun lounger as much as the next person but alone? Make your options on holiday varied and activities available, throw in a few fiords, the odd Great Wall and a safari or two. A busy person has no time for loneliness. Failing that, drink more. A drunk person has no time for loneliness either, and is more likely to get laid by a Spanish waiter.
Her second mistake, of course, was not spending at least an hour a day recalling all the holidays she has been on with boyfriends in the past. After all, why wake up whenever you want, spend your day doing exactly what you choose, and enjoy a fortnight in a state of blissful calm when you could be bickering poolside, rubbing factor 50 into the spotty back of a man you fantasises about drowning 17 times a day. Lonely? the trapments of a bad relationship make 3 months of solitary confinement in Strangeways look like the Olympics opening ceremony.
Of course, a good holiday with a partner who doesn’t get on your nerves (I am told, in a far away and mystical land, they do exist) is always going to be fun. It’s probably easier, a bit cheaper and undoubtably contains more orgasms, but in the meantime, embrace your freedom, the total luxury of doing whatever the hell you like.
I was happy to hear, the following day, that said friend’s insecurities were, it turns out, a hangover in disguise and that she spent that night in the amorous clinch of a total stranger in a back street of Porto Banus somewhere. I was relieved to know that she had returned to the normal and responsible behavioural patterns of all self respecting 30 somethings alone in a foreign country.
Nothing like sobriety, celibacy and inner reflection to kill a holiday stone dead, alone or otherwise.
On a final note, she should be reassured to hear that as soon as I am freed of all immediate dependents about my person I intend to spend my summers chain smoking Marlboro Lights and pissed as a newt by midday on tropical beaches across the globe and welcome her to join me.
If in doubt, take a friend and a hip flask of Bacardi. Two things that will never let you down.