I often spend months on end working away from home and staying in a budget hotel chain Monday to Friday. This statement alone elicits different responses. Some think that this is quite nice: no household chores; no cooking; no familial responsibilities. A strange new place to explore and the freedom to do exactly as you please. Others think that this is quite unpleasant: dining out at tables for one; not seeing loved ones; spending evenings in a bland room with only a small television set for company. A solitary and lonely existence.
Both viewpoints are of course completely valid. And completely wrong.
As I reflect back I can see that, especially in the early days, there were times when I felt aggrieved that I was obliged to be away, I missed family and friends and as a consequence became quite withdrawn and miserable. I ate alone in anonymous hotel restaurants, watched television in my room and counted the hours down to Friday.
More recently I’ve sought out colleagues to meet in the evening, avoided bland hotels and found family run eateries. I’ve made an effort to be more than a passing visitor and been rewarded with lasting friendships.
Often I use the evenings to run and swim, combating the tendency to gain weight when living this way. The extra time in the pool may not make me a great swimmer but I am undoubtedly improving. My runs let me discover a neighbourhood and help me feel a connection to this new place.
And on those evenings when I am alone with nothing to do I relish the prospect of reading a novel with a beer before an early night. Hardly Rock and Roll but I like it.
The only thing that has really changed is my attitude. I still miss my family, but being miserable makes it worse not better. I still crave company, but sitting alone in a room makes social interaction less likely. I still look forward to Thursday evening when I can pack my bag ready to go home on the Friday, but counting the hours down makes them pass no faster.
It’s all about choice. So much of life is, don’t you think?
I said can’t you see that this old boy has been a lonely?
If I could stick a knife in my heart
Suicide right on stage
Would it be enough for your teenage lust
Would it help to ease the pain? Ease your brain?
If I could dig down deep in my heart
Feelings would flood on the page
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would ya think the boy’s insane? He’s insane
I said I know it’s only rock ‘n roll but I like it
I said I know it’s only rock’n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do
Oh, well, I like it, I like it, I like it