I spent a long weekend in Falmouth, Cornwall visiting my sister and one of my best friends from school. The weather was wonderful, and we spent an idyllic few days filled with sea swims, barbeques, breakfast under apple trees, sculpture gardens and sunbathing in hammocks. Falmouth is an amazing place to visit, not only for the beautiful Cornish scenery, because the town is home to an arts university (where both my sister and friend attended), and this means there’s an exciting community of young creatives made up of past and present students. It’s inspiring to meet and talk to so many people not much older than myself who have had the courage to pursue doing something that they love, from furniture making to coffee roasting.
This Falmouth lifestyle, augmented by such glorious weather and only experienced for a short period of time, did seem like paradise. After four days, I was not ready to return to London. Yet while visiting somewhere like Falmouth highlights the negatives of a city like London - the swarms of people, the high costs, the dirt, the inequality, the fact that yes, it is hard to see the stars1 - I don’t think I could ever leave the city for such a rural life.
You see, as a (very) general rule, I do not like to talk. Ever since I was a young child, I have preferred my own company. My mum remarks my happiest times as a child was when my two sisters would leave for school and I would be able to play uninterrupted. I used to go round my best friend’s house and read her books instead of talking to her. One of my favourite activities is going to the opera or the ballet alone, although I’ve had to start buying my tickets in secret as friends seem to find this a worrying habit and insist on coming with me. But that’s what I love about living in a city - it’s so easy to be alone but not be lonely. You can escape to an art exhibition or a play, and connect with all the people around you through your shared experience, but you don’t have to talk to anyone, if you don’t want to. How easy it would be to do this somewhere more isolated, like Falmouth, I’m not sure.
I have to be careful though - being on your own is like a drug; it can become addictive and too much of it isn’t healthy.
Something I inherited from an ex-boyfriend and can’t seem to forget is that it’s bad luck to see one star. The superstition goes that if you only see one star and look into somebody’s eyes, you will never see that person again - hence I’ve spent many hours staggering around, staring up at London’s smoggy skies, desperately searching for a second star, all whilst shouting “don’t look into my eyes!” to whomever I’m with. ↩