Tag Archives: Living alone

Slippers

A friend collected a kitten last week to give to her daughter for her 7th birthday.  I agreed to look after the kitten this week while my friend was away.  Unfortunately the daughter turned out to be allergic.  And I have the kitten.  And I turned 38 yesterday.

Ella and Slippers

Ella and Slippers

Fate bestowed a kitten upon me during the week of my near-40 birthday.

And the cat’s name? Slippers …. Simone and Slippers.  An alliteration usually makes things better, but not in this case.  Simone … Slippers … Spinster.  I suppress an image of me in 20 years with a houseful of cats.

Slippers is named because of her white-feet.  The same reason my nana’s cat was named Socks.  Another reason to fear the symbol of the new kitten.  And the alliteration.

My friend commented “Oh it is nice to come home to something”.  No, it’s nice to not come home to something.

Whenever I’ve lived with people I’ve always walked up to my door at the end of the day with a feeling of dread.  Knowing (or worse, not knowing) that someone’s inside.  I loathe it.  I turn the key praying they won’t be there, while I simultaneously try not to get my hopes up that I’ve got the place to myself.  Fear and anticipation is too often met with plummeting disappointment and (irrational) anger when I hear the cheerful “Hello!!” from the person behind that door.   Ugh.

Of course if they’re not home, I get a rush of euphoria and elation.  “Woo hoo! No one’s here!!”  But for how long?  They’ll be back, but when?!  I can’t enjoy my solitude with the knowledge that the door will open and at any time.

I like living by myself.

Slippers’ mother was a feral cat who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident.  Slippers’ siblings were subsequently drowned.  For reasons unknown to me, Slippers and her brother were granted a reprieve from a watery execution.  And as they start out on the journey of life alone, I look out on the journey of middle-age equally alone.

Slippers doesn’t seem to have embraced solitary life as much as I have.  She follows me from room-to-room.  She sits on me when I sit down.  And she lies on my neck when I try to sleep.  In a nutshell, Slippers is very needy and has no idea of personal space.

I’m sorry Slippers that you’re the orphaned daughter of a feral cat.  I’m also sorry that I’m a solitary singleton who struggles to co-habit.  We’ll just have to give each other some space and see how we get along.

We stand a better chance if you stop trying to sleep on my face.

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I will not be found dead in my flat with cats eating my face

Sunday night, my freezing and tiny flat, West London.  I switch on my laptop to watch a movie before going to bed: a fairly regular routine for me to welcome the working week.  Netflix announces a specific “recommendation for you, Simone” and I glimpse at it without too much thought. I take these recommendations with a pinch of salt.  They’re usually popular movies and often not worth a second glance, but today I’ve been recommended a documentary which is rare.  I decide to click on the information button to find out more.  I read the summary with shock and a slight sinking feeling. “Dreams of a life” tells the “strange story of Joyce Vincent, a 38 year-old woman whose body was found in her tiny flat three years after she died.”  I am 35.  If I died now, my body could be that of a 38-year-old woman found in her tiny flat in three years*.  With slight discomfort and anxiety, I press play.

I expect an American story so I’m startled by the opening close-up of a map of my area.  I know every street staring at me.   The map is replaced by shot-after-shot of Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush.  I’d been there just two hours ago.   Ugh, this is making me feel very uncomfortable.  But I’m sure that Joyce Vincent is an outcast or a misfit, she’ll have been weird and dysfunctional … not “normal” and nothing like me, that’s for sure.   I keep watching.

Joyce Vincent was well-spoken, middle-class, very attractive, friendly, had a good career, people liked her.  I cringe.  Joyce Vincent was far better than me.  Her death, and the reason she wasn’t discovered is a mystery.  How she went from an engaging and social human being to an undiscovered missing person is inexplicable.  Her skeleton was found on her sofa and the TV was still on after three years (I look guiltily at my TV glowing in the corner …).  No one knows how she died and her family hasn’t commented on why they weren’t in contact.

I feel the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is staring me in the face.

My friends and family are aware of my hermit tendencies.  My workplace shuts down over the festive period and a few Christmases ago, when it came time to return to work in the New Year, I realised that I’d not seen or spoken to a real-life person in thirteen days.  It hadn’t even dawned on me that I’d not interacted with a flesh-and-blood human until I arrived at work.  When I enter my cave I can be reluctant to emerge unless absolutely necessary.

This year I have a choice to make for Christmas; I can stay on my own in my flat, or I can visit my friend and her family in Ireland.  For weeks I’ve been stalling on a decision, but the moment has come.  I close netflix.com and open aerlingus.com.  Ten minutes later my flights to Dublin are booked.  I will NOT be Joyce Vincent.

And Netflix, you can keep your judgemental recommendations to yourself!

Afterword

I really didn’t appreciate one woman in the programme vehemently saying “It’s bad enough reaching 40, let alone being forty and alone.  Awful. Shocking.” Not all of us are lucky enough to be happily paired up and that doesn’t make us depressed lepers, thanks very much.

*I realise that I’d be a 35-year-old body in three years rather than 38, but you get my point.