This week, at the age of 37, I moved in with my boyfriend.
This is the first time I have ever lived with a partner and so I felt the event should be acknowledged.
It's not that I haven't had a boyfriend before, it's just that one of us generally didn't want to live with the other, and we all know where that goes. The result being I was single for a while.
Which meant friends, relatives, random ex-colleagues and relatives of friends offered me lots of advice.
I was told to stop being so fussy; to get out more; to go online; to go offline; to have a few one night stands; to stop looking for a spark; there must be something wrong with me if I hadn't already had a child; cut my hair; grow my hair; wear make up; I couldn't be happy on my own; it doesn't matter if a boy can't spell/doesn't know how to use apostrophes; I was turning into a crazy cat lady; I was too weird; stop wasting my time in bookshops(!); stop wasting my time reading(!); get a popular hobby; stop drinking beer; start watching football; wear higher heels; flirt more; flirt less; stop over-thinking; stop watching rom coms; join an evening class... the list is endless. There was even the odd comment about going feral and the assumption I must be living in the closet.
The thing no one told me, but I eventually worked out, was that what I really needed to do was be myself. To make the most of the life I had and stop wasting it hoping for a dream that might never happen and appraising every single man I met for his potential Mr Erica status.
Sure, I could've been living with a boy long ago, I might even be married and have lots of children. But I'd be living a very different life, and think of all the bookshopping adventures I'd probably have missed out on.
Also, until I was 36 and met this particular boy I didn't know what it meant to truly love and be loved. And quite frankly, the thought I could've missed this experience because I followed any of the advice above fills me with horror.
This isn't a blog to tell those people they were wrong (I'm certainly slightly feral and guilty as charged with cats), and it's not a blog to be all lovey dovey and boastful. It's here because there were times when I'd be alone and it would feel like the world was against me but I'd somehow stumble across a post like this, and although the loneliness would still be there and I'd never believe it could happen to me, the knowledge that it had happened to someone would be a little speck of light in the distance.
All those little specks of light were a reassuring guide to the place I now find myself: a house crammed with boxes and no room to move. This blog is suffering, I'm tired from the boy's crazy hours and I doubt I'll ever find where I packed my hairdryer, but my goodness those crappy lonely years were worth it to learn who I really am and get to this.
Posted July 2017