Being alone with a friend, in a good way

Being alone with a friend sounds like either an oxymoron, or “friend” really means wanna-be partner. However, in this case, it’s neither.

Last weekend was the end of a long and and tiring week and I had reached the bottom of my battery. In an effort to recharge I spent most of Saturday in or on my bed trying to feel like doing something vaguely productive or interesting, and failing. Sunday was looking like it was heading the same way.

And then I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, from my friend and former colleague Ingrid.

Let me tell you a bit about her. We worked together for about a year, and we hit it off straight away. We worked really well together, swapping work back and forth and handing things off seamlessly. We knew we’d honed our craft when no one could tell the difference between our work.

Ingrid is far more artistic than me. She’s had a long history of design and craft, draws and paints well, makes all kinds of things, is a dab hand with power tools, and has a whole large room dedicated to and set up for making things.

One day we were discussing our idea of fun activities and I learned that she routinely packs her car with essentials of various kinds (varied according to the activity du jour) and drives somewhere with a view, preferably without too many people, sits in the back of her car and eats her chosen food and does her chosen activity – be that read, do a cryptic crossword, draw, paint, photograph, collect shells, knit, write, whatever.

I thought this was the coolest thing I’d heard. I immediately wondered why I’d never thought to do this as a regular thing.

Ingrid left work, deciding that 9-5 was not for her, so we arranged to see one another for Elevenses every week on my work-from-home day to keep in touch and just because that’s what you do with friends.

We missed the previous week’s Elevenses because I had something on, so instead she suggested we do something on Sunday. She proposed a car trip. How perfect.

We drove to brunch, then out to a nearby rocky bay she had recently discovered. We bought some cakes for afternoon tea, and parked on the foreshore to watch the waves and the birds. We went for a walk to collect shells and interesting things to draw (including two crab ‘skeletons’). We sat in the car and did two cryptic crosswords. Then we drove home. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Solo car picnics might be my new favourite thing.

Being alone with a friend is like being by yourself but better because you’re doing what you like doing but you’ve got someone there who enjoys it as much as you. You’re not at odds, one person feeling restless and bored (them) while the other (me) feels like they’re getting pressured to race around and Do Things just for the sake of it.

It was fun, relaxing and interesting, and I felt like I had Done Something with my weekend that had recharged me. A win all round.

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