He woke with a start, glancing at the window, wondering what time it was. It still looked pretty dark outside but he could hear the faint sound of a train.
Leaning forward, he checked the time on the bedside clock. 06.27 AM!! ‘Good’, he thought, as he sat up, reaching for his bleached robe hanging on the bedpost. He felt a pang of pain in his head like a migraine and knew he had drunk more than a few shots of Whisky last night.
Shaun tried to recollect how he had gotten home as he made his way through the dimly-lit room towards the door, thinking of brewing his favourite Whittard of Chelsea Santos and Java coffee, mentally savouring the sweet, nutty, smoky and rich taste.
As he approached the door, he paused suddenly. From the corner of his eye, he had caught a slight movement coming from the bed. He walked back quietly, gently lifting up the sheet. Underneath lay a blond girl, naked, knees clasped together and arms wrapped around the soft pillows.
Her long blond hair was strewn all over the pillow, long dark lashes almost touching each other. Her face looked well-rested and still in deep sleep. Memories of the previous night came flooding back.
It was 07.30 pm when the phone rang. Angela was on the other line. He, Dave and Henry had arranged a Friday night out to celebrate Angela’s 35th birthday. They had agreed to meet at their popular wine bar on Brick Lane for 09.00 pm. The babysitter was busy getting the girls ready for their sleep-over at their friend’s and he had just finished having his shower.
‘Hey Angela, what’s up?’, he said, as he reached for his trousers. “Hi Shaun. Just checking you are still coming tonight. I’ve got some mates I’d like you to meet”, she replied, with a chuckle. There we go again, sighed Shaun, always trying to set him up with some new girl.
Well, that was yesterday. He looked at the girl lying under his sheets and remembered her name. Sofia, with an F, she had insisted!! She had been quite friendly and described herself as a fun-loving single girl, ready for adventure. Sofia seemed like his kind of woman, quite free-spirited and spontaneous.
Pulling the sheets back up, he walked down into the living room, switched on the coffee maker as he reminisced on the past four years since becoming single.
Now 45, being single has had its many benefits and challenges. The freedom to live as he pleased, enjoy the privacy and the ability to make decisions without having to make compromises to anyone. Being single had enabled him embrace his own space and grow into the person he had always wanted to be. A lover of travel and adventure. Finally, he had his creative juices flowing once again and he could say his life had become more orderly, in fact much less chaotic than he could ever remember.
Although he understood how happy and fulfilled many of his friends who were still married seemed to be, he felt that every experience was different and as such one’s life’s choices and circumstances have to fit with one’s own personal experiences. He knew also that some of his friends were quite miserable in their relationships yet were unable to break away for several reasons.
That evening, after several rounds of drinks, discussions had moved on to sex, dating and relationships. They all had agreed that there was a cultural shift, a sexual revolution, which has successfully decoupled sex from marriage and there was now a clear distinction of how people, especially millennials, view sex and relationships.
In the past, they had argued, there were pressures on individuals, both male and female, to conform to a culture of marriage, as this was viewed as the ultimate fulfilment of adulthood. Irrespective of how one felt in the union, the rule was to bear the joys, pains and trauma for the good of all, especially where children were involved. They all agreed that although to compromise was a good thing, nonetheless, if one was in an unhappy and perhaps abusive relationship, then it was crucial to ensure one’s safety and well-being was paramount in any decision one was to take.
From being single through divorce, losing one’s partner through bereavement or just enjoying one’s own space, in today’s societies, many have become increasingly aware of the needs of the individual, for self-fulfilment, self-love and accomplishment.
As Dave had suggested that evening, one needs to engage with the self, appreciate one’s own personalities and in so doing, can share one’s life with another deserving individual.
Shaun understood that many of his mates, particularly Angela, felt that he needed to be in a steady relationship. She insists that companionship helps to keep one’s mind engaged positively and most importantly, helps one avoid social isolation.
He finds these arguments quite valid, however he feels that his past experiences have had a huge impact in the way he views long-term relationships.
As a single male, he is one of a growing number of men who have had very difficult marriages and argue that the quality of life they now have far exceeds what they had when they were married. They guard their freedom so intensely and any deliberate attempt to disrupt this new found and exhilarating lifestyle would be fought against. This, he assumes, is also the case with many single women who have passed through bitter experiences.
Shaun sat back on the sofa, took a sip of his coffee and wondered if Sofia would be any different from Ingrid or the others. “Why can’t they just stay the way they are from the start. Why do they always want more?”, he thought with exasperation. They understand the rule! No commitment!! Unfortunately after a few weeks, they seem to want daily contact and some form of commitment.
He tried to recollect the conversations with Sofia. One thing was certain, at this stage in his life, he rather prefers the freedom to date several women and not feel emotionally attached to any. That usually, more often than not, led to guilt, which is a feeling he just would not engage with at this time.
He wondered what Sofia was like. Angela had whispered to him Sofia had been single for about two years and wouldn’t mind dating a fella who wouldn’t expect constant contact and frequent date nights. She loves her space, she had informed him. ‘Great. Sounds good to me’, he thought, as he took another sip of his coffee.
TO BE CONTINUED……