by MIA FREEDMAN
This week I flew interstate for a meeting and accidentally stayed for three days. How very rockstar of me. But as much as I’d like to think myself capable of such behaviour, I wasn’t on a bender. I haven’t done that since 1998 when I had such a big weekend with two girlfriends, I can only dimly recall it. Something, something, tequila, laughing, something, dancing to Kylie, tequila, something, the end. HEADACHE.
When I went AWOL this week, the only illicit substance involved was solitude. Great delicious chunks of it. Since starting a family, being alone has become a precious commodity. The less solo time I have, the more I crave. And that’s how I came to run away from home. If you’re in any position to do so, I highly recommend it. Each day I’d call my husband and say “I think I want to stay another night”. And I did.
That first night, I slept ridiculously well. It was the kind of sleep people should write poems about. Songs should be sung. Gold medals awarded. That good.
I now understand why some people try to buy beds from hotels. ‘If I could just take this magic bed home, I could sleep that well every night!’ they think.
Fools. It’s not the bed. It’s your head. There’s a level of relaxation I inhabit when I’m away – even on work trips – that’s just not possible at home. Here, every moment alone feels like I’m stealing time from my family. First I feel guilty. Next, resentful about the guilt. As my husband would say “Lord, it’s complicated being you.” He’s not wrong.
A few years ago, I went to one of those lifestyle forecasting presentations where they predicted bathrooms would become the new lounge room. Instead of merely a place to ablute, people will soon begin to congregate while we do all those bathroomy things. Mothers are way ahead of the curve on this one. Our kids walk in and out indiscriminately and the shower and toilet are seen as a perfectly legitimate places for a chat.
Time to yourself after you have kids becomes something snatched, furtive. I know some women who find their fix in running, late night baths or grabbing their iPod and doing the supermarket shopping late at night. Alone. Because for some of us, that’s the key to filling up your tank.
I’ve always been happy in my own company. I was a latch-key kid in the 80s with an older brother so I grew up pottering around with my dog a fair bit. As a result, my alone policy as an adult is very liberal. I’m comfortable dining out, traveling, shopping and going to the movies by myself. I used to hate flying but I now consider it a luxury to drive myself to the airport and board a plane where I can write and read uninterrupted.