One of the first things that you realise when you have a kid is that you will never be alone again. Not truly. I’m not talking about alone as in having a bath by yourself or a nice long walk with the dog on the beach. Or being on the bus. Or even walking around town with your earphones in so that you don’t have to talk to anyone – these things don’t count because they actually re-enter your life again pretty quickly once you’ve had the baby (only you never take them for granted again. Ever ). What doesn’t generally resurface is the long periods of alone time in the house.
If you asked Glenn what he misses about his past life he might mention that he’d like to be able to buy Coco Pops or sleep in all weekend and binge watch TV programs. But me, I miss being alone.
I’m well aware that I look back on my twenties with rose-tinted glasses (because most of it was undeniably shit) but one of my favourite things to reminisce about is my daggy old flat in West Hobart which had a garden and an outside loo. I had recently split with my boyfriend and would spend whole weekends padding moodily around this flat, playing music, reading trash and smoking on the back steps or in the bathtub, blowing smoke out the large window. The seediness was so very pleasing to my mental state. I ate jaffles or cheese and biscuits for most meals and napped at inappropriate times. Pip was living just around the corner in her own daggy little flat and it was the only time that I could remember us both being single at the same time. Although on a quick side note, I do remember her beseeching me (I’m a big mouth) not to tell anyone that she quite liked Dave, whom we had just met.
The default, on weekends at least, was that I was alone unless I arranged not to be. Fast forward to now – where the default is that someone can walk casually into the bathroom while I am trying to do private bathroom things. At any time. Even the dog wants to accompany me everywhere and likes to sit on the bathmat while I shower. If I refuse, he sits right outside, where I can see his indignant outline through the frosted glass door. Alone time is not your own if you’re pissing someone off. It should be time where no one knows or even cares what you’re doing. That’s the whole point. Would I swap this life for the one I had before? No, of course not. But like the Rat with his beloved river in ‘Wind in the Willows’, I like to think about it.
If I want alone time I have to arrange it. I have to plot it. And in my mind at least, I have to deserve it. Last week when Glenn wondered aloud if he should take G up to visit his parents overnight my ears pricked up. A window of opportunity! I asked myself if I could justify not accompanying them and quickly came to this conclusion: abso-fucking-lutely.
Arrangements were made. The morning they were to leave, my excitement was at its peak. My romanticism of alone time was in full swing. I had hoped that G would be at his worst and whiniest just before they left so that my alone time would seem all the more thrilling – but naturally he was deliciously cute and outrageously helpful. He even packed up his sprawling train set without being asked (this never happens). He was unfazed about going away without me and eager to go see the grandparents, whom he adores.
I wanted Glenn to be annoying so that I could delight in his departure. Instead he was was sweet and unperturbed by my obvious excitement at the prospect of simulating a life where perhaps they didn’t exist. He said he’d miss me but didn’t seem to begrudge me the couple of days of freedom I had ahead.
They both kissed me happily. Lovingly. Then got in the car and drove off.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t walk back in the house and rejoice momentarily in its emptiness. I won’t go into details of what I really like to do with my alone time and I don’t think it would interest you much anyway.
But whatever I was doing, predictably, after about four hours I missed them stupidly. Because I’m not a heartbroken twenty-something anymore. I live with a boy and a man and a dog. And it’s pretty good. Maybe we just need a proper bathroom door.