Loner, Not Lonely

Tomorrow, it will be four weeks since I boarded a plane at Heathrow to land in a country I knew relatively little about, had never visited, and didn’t speak a word of the language.


Why there, everyone asked me. You’ll have to look at previous posts for answers to that question, but today I’m looking at what I’ve learned about myself in what is, to outside observers, a strange set of unexpected circumstances.

I’m very honest about money having been an overriding factor in my decision to come here in the first place. I just no longer had the means to sustain rent, Council Tax, utility bills et al in the UK. Living by yourself does not come cheap, and the rising cost of living was depressing the hell out of me.

Not to mention the weather.

And yes, Brexit has added complications, but there are options I won’t bore you with (yet). That’s all further down the line, and for the moment I’m heading there for the Digital Nomad Conference in Bansko, and for some travel pieces.

Money aside, it’s an ongoing interesting experience, and I think I’ve realised that I’m very much a loner at heart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a late-night party animal who loves company, but I’ve always had the feeling that I’m watching a character play out my life rather than actually living it.

There were moments of panic when I first arrived – but had I left my comfort zone? I don’t think so. I’m not even sure what a comfort zone is, and not sure I’d like it even if I were to discover it.

I am one of those people who, alighting from the plane and heading for the carousel to pick up my luggage, seethes with envy at the people walking in the opposite direction, heading off to pastures new.

I’ve never been one for the ‘Oh, it’s good to get home.’

No, I’ve never felt that. I’m back an hour, enjoy the PG Tips I haven’t been able to get in the Liptons only French (or wherever) supermarket, and I’m ready for the off again.

I’ve also realised how adaptable I am. Yes, I’ve arrived in other places before on what, to others, appears like a whim (it never is, by the way; it’s always been brewing in my head for aeons before I announce it), and settled very quickly. Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Puerto Banus, Valencia – I’m still me (for better, for worse), wherever I am, and I’ve never grieved when I’ve left anywhere, because it’s always been the right time.

But all of those places had a familiarity; Eastern Europe is an altogether a different feel, and I was thrown at first. Not being able to understand a single word of a language is unnerving, but it’s possible to quickly get over that by remembering that most of what comes out of people’s mouths in the language I do speak is utter bollocks anyway (and I’m talking about election speak here, not my friends!).

Is it enough, in the words of Virginia Woolf, to have a room of one’s own, both literally and metaphorically?

Having found a ‘nest’ in an Airbnb and somewhere to unpack, I certainly feel very settled. I’m remembering a teacher from my junior school, when I was 11, telling Mum that ‘You could put her in the middle of a field and she’d still learn.’

I’ve often thought of that. Another field. Another country. And always the desire for knowledge.

Ernest Hemingway had the same desire for the new: for adventure, indulging in the pursuits that gave him most joy – hunting, fishing, travelling.

Both Woolf and Hemingway topped themselves, of course.

Maybe there’s a moral there somewhere – and maybe that’s what I’m learning, too.

A room of one’s own is all very well, but you still need people to come knocking, and for the friends and family who continue to help me so much to get through what has been (joking aside) a very difficult period of my life, thank you for being there on the other side of that door – financially, emotionally, practically.

Not sure where the Hemingway metaphor for life is in my story, though.

Nothing ever good comes of growing a silly big beard?

Fish is bad for you?

Who knows.