favourite time of year is the period between Christmas and New
Year. It's like a week of Sundays.
No one expects any work to get done, the streets are empty, the
pressure is off. Just getting dressed feels like an accomplishment.
Sometimes during this period I will agree to leave the house and
meet up with a friend. But only if food is involved. If I'm going
to interrupt doing nothing with taking a shower, there has to
be an incentive. Conversation isn't enough.
That's what the phone is for. It allows me to continue to engage
with the outside world without ever having to look in a mirror.
But no matter how much I try to convince people I'm happy not
going out, there will always be those who don't believe me. They
can't fathom how being alone and staying in is preferable to being
with strangers making small talk while at the same time wondering
how I'll get home.
And that's always the main concern. Getting around is such a deterrent.
I would go out a lot more if everything took place in my building.
The other day a friend invited me to a Christmas party and I decided
to be honest. I told her I didn't want to face the hassle of traveling
there and back.
"But you travel all the time," she said.
Exactly. The last thing I want is to go outside my two-block radius
if I don't have to.
Nevertheless, a few nights ago I ventured out to the work party,
which was at a venue that couldn't have been further away. Walking
to the tube, (a walk considerably extended because of inappropriate
footwear), waiting for the tube, taking the tube, walking to the
venue, getting lost, and stopping at a newsagent for directions;
they could have had the party in Paris and I would have got there
Within the first five minutes of arriving I was already putting
into motion the exit plan. I got the name of a mini-cab company
from the bartender and arranged for a pick-up so I didn't have
to worry. But then the whole time I was checking my watch to make
sure I didn't miss the ride.
Anticipating wanting to leave early, I'd booked the car too soon.
For the first time in ages I'm actually at a party I would have
liked to stay at but I can't. I have to leave because the meter's
running. This is why I don't go out at the holidays. It's too
On Christmas Day in London, there is no public transport. What
could be better?
Expectations are low. There is no obligation to go anywhere or
do anything because there is no way to get around. If only it
could be like this every day.
No public transport limits the people you see to whoever lives
in the neighbourhood. Recently I was on the phone to someone I
work with when we discovered we live 5 minutes away from each
other. She's around - I'm around - the obligation for coffee hung
in the air. "We should meet up," I said. And then, to
my delight, she replied: "Nothing personal, but no."
She told me she'd rather be alone. Finally, I'd found the ideal
friend to have in the neighborhood: someone I'll never see.
New Year's Eve is a whole other story. If you're over the age
of 35, unless you're Kate Moss, no one will question your decision
to stay home.
But this year, I got the perfect invitation from my friend, Oliver.
The e-mail arrived with the subject heading: New Year Sadsters.
"I hereby invite you discerning types to drop in at my under
furnished flat on the 31st in the mid or late afternoon.I would
arrange for there to be some food.and then you could go. Or stay
as you wished."
He then goes on to say he might change his mind about meeting
at his flat but we could meet at a nearby pub or restaurant instead.
And, we can let him know by the 29th.
What I found so pleasing about the invitation was the ambivalence.
It kind of sounded like he was hoping we'd decline. So with the
pressure off, I accepted.
Of course now I'm worried he'll cancel.