I’ve been surprised by how rarely over the last few years I’ve wished I had a partner.
Well – that’s not entirely true – as I often wish I had someone with whom to share life.
What I mean is, I’ve been surprised by how rarely I’ve felt that there were things I had to do that I needed someone else to do for me.
I should distinguish between ‘needing’ and ‘wanting’ here. I’d have to admit to frequently ruminating on the fact that I would (might?) have less to do if there was another adult around. This weekend I’ve done the supermarket shopping, a bit of gardening, walked the dog, bought garden tools in Bunnings, paid a load of bills online, done the laundry, cleaned the house and cooked meals for a house full of teenagers. If there had been someone to relieve me of just one of those tasks it would have been nice, but not actually entirely necessary. Because I’m wonder woman.
However, the things I have needed another person for have taken me completely by surprise.
Picture the scene one day this week for example.
I am alone in the house, having had a long day in the office. I am desperate to get out of my work dress. I get the zip down so far and then…nothing. It’s not stuck, but I just can’t reach it properly to move it down. I try reaching down from my shoulder, and then up my back – but to no avail. I’m getting kind of hot and sweaty. I try pulling the dress vigorously downwards with one hand whilst trying to get a firm grip on the zip. This doesn’t work. I add jumping up and down to the mix – you know, just in case. Also doesn’t work.
I start to wonder if I am going to end up having to sleep in the dress and wear it until the children come home. I consider popping next door and asking for help, but then also consider that this might seem a little…well…forward – given that we’ve barely spoken.
Eventually, through an exhausting combination of wriggling, jumping up and down and expletives, I get the damn dress off.
So – we’ve established that I do, on occasion, need a person around to remove items of clothing for entirely non-sexual reasons.
Add to this issues with the clasps on jewelry – particularly bracelets – changing the doona* cover, turning the mattress (completely impossible alone, unless you are prepared to risk a hernia – believe me, I’ve tried), retrieving items from the back of high cupboards and folding king size sheets.
On the positive side though, becoming single also involves quite a lot of upskilling. I now know, for example – from bitter experience – that the way to make maintaining your pool easier is not to just leave the filter pump on all summer. The outrage I communicated to the electricity company about the enormous mistake on the bill was soon replaced with embarrassment once we established this was the cause. Lesson learnt.
And I’ve also discovered and developed workarounds for some of the day to day problems of singledom. I am extremely sensitive to onions, to the extent that my eyes stream at the mere whiff of one – making chopping them very challenging and uncomfortable indeed. I used to rely on my ex husband for this, but guess what? You can buy ‘onion glasses’ and they really work (see extremely glamorous photo above).
Some of the things I’ve needed a +1 for have been more sinister though.
Want to buy one of the lux seats at the cinema? Bad luck if you want to go on your own – unless you can recruit a similarly lonesome stranger – as the seats are in cosy pairs. Because obviously if you are Billy No Mates, you wouldn’t want to sit in a super comfortable seat that reclines and has a lovely button which summons an assistant who will bring you food. Oh no – you’d probably prefer to remain at home, weeping and wishing that you had someone to go to the cinema with.
See a great package holiday – perhaps trekking the Great Wall of China, or cruising the South Pacific? Well, expect to be punished financially for the audacity of wanting to travel the world despite being a singleton.
Have a heart world – it’s already hard enough never having anyone available to take your kit off…
*doona = oddly Australian word for duvet cover, for those of you who are not familiar with our language.