I'm just back from spending a few days with old friends. I had a great time and now I feel like crap. Being alone in this house has become unbearable and I am on the verge of deciding to move away from this unfriendly and unhappy place.
I've been widowed, and therefore living alone, for three years now, and a change has been working in me this last year. For the first couple of years I still felt linked to the Golfer and so, although I missed him and felt lonely without him, I also still felt like part of something - he might not be around any more but I was still his wife. At least, that's what kept me going through those awful months. But actually I lost more than my husband when he died. I lost the connection to the exciting world he inhabited, all the vicarious thrills of his international travel - the crises, the late-night phone calls and emails, the hastily arranged travel plans. My life might have been pretty dull and quiet but I was only a step away from a busy and exciting life, populated by hundreds of people that I never met but that I felt as if I knew.
When he died, inevitably all that disappeared too. I was concentrating so hard on being brave those first two years after his death that I didn't have time to notice how very different, how sparse, my life was now. Part of it was of our own doing - we had always been a pretty private couple - he didn't like to mix business and home life, home was the place he came to recuperate - so we didn't have many friends, only colleagues. Luckily, I had a couple of friends of my own, otherwise I wouldn't have got this far but, as almost all my family and his too, were dead, when he died I was left practically alone in the world. Just me and my son and my little dog. The son had, by a cruel coincidence, gone off to University the same month that the Golfer died so, when I woke up from my stupor of grief a year ago, I was appalled at what my life was now. I went from living in a house with a family and two businesses being run from it, to living alone with just an old dog for company, almost overnight.
So this last year has felt worse than anything that preceded it. I will even admit that I have felt almost suicidal at times. I can now at least bear to be around married friends, I can go to their houses and see their normal lives without wanting to stab myself in the eyes. But I want to live it again, desperately. I might never marry again - who'd put up with a book-collecting aspiring intellectual who never wants to cook another meal but loves playing WOrld of Warcraft? Not an enticing prospect to your average middle-aged guy, you'll agree. But I can at least live amongst friends, and in a neighbourhood where people talk to you and aren't afraid to offer a helping hand.
The friends I was visiting last week live in the town I used to live in before we came to the wild and woolly Highlands. I love going back. People look you in the eye and they love to talk. It's partly nosiness of course, but oh! how I long for that nosiness after ten years of being blanked by the people here.
When I was staying there, at one point we had two new mums, a new dad, and two babies in the house as well as the three of us and my little dog. It was bliss and I wanted it never to stop. I could hardly bear to drag myself back here. But I checked out a house for sale while I was there, and I loved it, and I think, I really think that I am going to do it. I just need to talk to my son and then I think I'm actually going to put my house on the market (and stuff the credit crunch) and that means I could soon be living amongst normal people again, with a social life, and company, and a new life. I cannot wait!