On Monday I was in Brussels to meet the rest of the bloggers / students / journalists that are taking part in the TH!NK3 Development competition. I attended a conference on Tuesday and by the afternoon I was waiting at the Grand Place for my sister and a lift to the airport. I sat on the kerb in front of the pretty white building and either took photos or just listlessly waited, head on hands. Now and then I caught the eye of a guy sitting a little further down from me and also on his own. We were two among many tourists sitting around and he came up to me and asked if I was travelling alone like him and whether I fancied exploring a bit. He said that he had just arrived today and it was getting boring already being on his own. I knew what he meant but I was leaving, so no shared exploring in our foreseeable future. He was from Argentina but lived in London. He had quit his job and had started travelling for the next six months. Now on his own in Brussels he wanted some company with which to share his experience.
I remember feeling the same way on my last day in Barcelona, being so tired at the end of a three day trip mainly involving walking and having no one with whom to share it. Not sure if it was a lonely feeling but there was something lacking, an empty space. Sitting at the Old Vic last November, holding on to the second ticket for a friend who never showed up, more empty space. Trying to find someone to use the spare ticket to Alphabeat last October, the Miserable Rich / Random Family, Two Door Cinema Club, failing to see the Counting Crows in London a few years back, and on and on. Well, I recently gave up with the idea of a second ticket. I’m not buying them anymore. If there’s something I want to see I will go on my own.
At breakfast with friends recently, we were talking about how there are certain events for which you need company. Going to bars/pubs, a restaurant, what’s the point of coffee on your own? Not sure that I agree with all of those. When going for coffee on my own I can linger for a few hours with my notepad / laptop for company. There is so much to do, to write, to think. There is no irritation at the silence, no one demanding attention and no one rushing to head off. After a while (months, years) of doing just that I can see that it’s not that easy. There’s a whole different niceness to lingering with someone else. Alone is nice and company is also nice. My compromise is to enjoy the company when it’s there, and indeed be more than excited by it, while at the same time stop worrying about that empty seat. Next goal is to accept, embrace and acknowledge the space by going somewhere like New York. Barcelona faded into a slight emptiness but I came away with over a thousand pictures to play with. Not a bad consequence of travelling alone. Now just have to sort out the pictures from Brussels and create some space for the ones from my next trip.