Even before some of my friends got widowed, many of them started going solo —eating out, watching movies or plays. For some reason, they seemed glad they had had practice going to places by their lonesome before actually losing their partners.
I don’t really know what advantage is derived from doing it alone before one needed to—except maybe being eased into the practice and spared the awkward period of adjustment, if there is such a thing. But how, indeed, does anyone adjust to it? Wouldn’t it be better to hold it off until one has no other choice?
In any case, one does sometimes find oneself with an unavailable partner. In my case, it’s when Vergel is too busy or somehow disinclined, but that happens very rarely, if at all. Just about the only such time I remember is during those weeklong foreign film festivals, when in one day one can watch three successive movies.
Still, without Vergel, I’d rather not go, unless I can call on a well-practiced, only recently widowed friend who lives across from the Greenbelt movie theaters. She never misses those film festivals, and is therefore a perfect fallback date for me.
But Vergel and I have come to increasingly like foreign films since we subscribed to CinemaWorld on cable television. Soon he may be more than willing to watch as many as I’d like in one day.
Actually, Vergel doesn’t mind coming along for whatever, shopping and doing groceries included. Very rarely would I feel the need to venture alone, and rarer still the occasions I can’t drag Vergel along without the help of six wild horses.
But why go anywhere, if he can’t come with me? After all, as my grandmother was wont to ask, “What’s wrong with staying home?”
The position doesn’t make me look very mature or sophisticated, but going solo anywhere goes against my grain— it’s old school. It was lola who advised us cousins to be sure our daughters were taught to enjoy or, better yet, love staying home. She warned that, unless girls grew up loving hearth and home, the family would surely miss out.
She didn’t object to women working, but she believed a woman should develop in themselves the love of homemaking and pass it on to their daughters. Domesticity, to her, if not natural in a woman, can be a learned art. I grew up exposed to her well-intentioned prejudices, which I now find hard to shake off—not that I want to.
I did go once without Vergel on a sentimental journey that took us two cousins and close family friend 53 years to make happen: the three-week trip took us back to our old colegio in Madrid, where lolo and lola put us right after high school; Barcelona where lolo was born; and the other convent school in Paris, where we stayed for a whole summer while studying French at the Alliance Française, just a block away.
If lola were still living during our second trip, she would not have liked the idea of us leaving our husbands behind, for any reason.
Older couples like Vergel and I don’t have the luxury of time. We need to make snap decisions to go just about anywhere. When, one day, on our way to the Apple store in Greenbelt, we happened to chance upon, a French Film Festival going on, we lost no time in texting kasambahay Lanie to bring us our senior movie passes to catch a showing.
In our excitement, we had completely forgotten we had a book launch we had promised to go to that same afternoon. It didn’t matter that I had written it down in my appointment book and in the calendar of events in my cell phone; in that state of guiltless oblivion, we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Planning too far ahead and availing ourselves of travel promos could in the end prove even more costly. Travel promos require quick online decisions to put down a 50-percent reservation fee for a trip half a year away. The discounts are tempting, but I hesitate and therefore have lost many an opportunity. As it is, we don’t even know how either one of us will feel the next day, never mind six months from now.
In fact, I once almost lost both a hefty deposit and the peak-season booking itself, had I not received a text reminding me to pay the full balance on deadline date in October for a four-day Christmas stay promo in a Baguio hotel!
Recently, my husband and I changed our minds about a 16-day Asian cruise in March, much to the disappointment of friends taking it. Going on a cruise is definitely on our bucket list, but 16 days are just too long for Vergel, especially when almost half of the time is spent on board, not on land tours.
We are, however, open to shorter cruises. No matter how luxurious or full of entertainment a cruise ship is, Vergel would rather get to his destination as quickly as possible and spend the days he’s away from work and home getting to know intimately and extensively just one or two places at a time. And, of course, I wholeheartedly agree.
I’d like to think there’s miles to go—before I even practice going solo!