The Travelling Companions by Augustus Leopold Egg

Time to move on

I know I have been quiet lately, but in my defence I am new to all this and haven’t really got into my stride yet. After all, what should one consider to be a suitable interval between posts? Too frequent and one becomes open to accusations of vanity and delusions of self-importance, too few and one is going to be ignored. I have come across individuals who are pouring out their hearts on an almost daily basis. It is hard to keep up with these people and their outpourings. Others seem to limit themselves to more infrequent postings. If there is an etiquette to this sort of thing I have yet to find it.

My lack of online activity is in no way a reflection of my offline life. Quite the opposite in fact. Since the start of the year, I have been forced to re-evaluate my life and reassess my priorities. Last year was rather difficult for me personally and financially. Both the relationship and the business I started the year with suffered dramatically thanks to Covid-19 and the restrictions it brought with it. My relationship with Robert ended in the summer after a disastrous couple of weeks in isolation with him.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been busy winding down my gallery business and sorting my finances. Exhibition items hve been returned, stock sold on and my lease ended by mutual consent.

It has been stressful and emotional. I had invested a lot of time and effort into the gallery felt it was just beginning to break even. Now it is just another statistic, another victim of the pandemic. Whilst the newspapers publish daily updates on the number of people who have contracted Covid, died from it, and now have been vaccinated against it, how many people have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, or their businesses through it?

Many of the artists I have exhibited and sold works for are struggling to survive. Friends who work in the theatre have had no work for almost a year now. My own story may be devastating to me personally, but it is nothing compared to what many others continue to endure with little or no support.

On the positive side, both of my daughters are keeping well and, if anything, are thriving. Emily has just started a new job working for a large law firm in Manchester. She is working from home which seems to suit her very well. Charlotte is settled in Edinburgh and seems to be enjoying student life, all-be-it not quite what she signed up for. She is lucky enough to be living with friends and not having to cope with student accommodation. I wish I could be with them. Hopefully by spring one or other of us will be able to make the journey.

Now that I have settled everything with the gallery and am satisfied the girls are safe and happy I find myself feeling somewhat adrift. With no gainful employment, no one to look after, and no social life to speak of, I am at something of a loose end. I suppose the first thing I should do is look for a new job or project. I have no immediate need to work as financially I am reasonably secure. For me, it is as much about self-respect and sanity as anything else. But what can I do in this strange and topsy-turvy world?

Maybe it is time to think outside of my comfort zone. I am not afraid of hard work and am open to suggestions. One of two of my friends have suggested volunteering to help with vaccinations or one of the foodbanks that have sprung up recently. I will give these ideas serious thought.

Actually, there are a few things that will require serious thought. I am a single woman, of a certain age, and although I am not exactly desperate to start a new relationship I do miss having someone around. But how does one go about finding new friends in the middle of a lockdown? I don’t really like the idea of those online dating websites. It all seems so clinical and detached. Yes, I know that some lucky people have found their soul mate that way, but I just don’t like the idea. And I have heard enough horror stories from others to put me off the whole idea. But where does that leave me? With no art galleries, theatres, bars, or other venues where I might normally expect to meet new people it seems I will simply have to learn to cope on my own for while longer.

Of course, I know I can always call on Robert. He has made it abundantly clear, on several occasions that he would take me back in an instant. Rather than being a comfort, I find that rather sad really. He is a good man, but not built for relationships. He is under a lot of pressure from his family to get married and settle down but I can’t honestly see that happening any time soon. At least not in a way that would make him happy.

As for what would make me happy, I am not so sure myself at the moment. For most of my adult life, I have been responsible for the welfare and happiness of others, mainly my husband and two daughters. Now I only have myself to consider and I am not sure how to do that.

Whatever the future hold, I am sure it will be an adventure.

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