GET­TING MAR­RIED AT 48 Kather­ine Bald­win waves good­bye to sin­gle life

As writer Kather­ine Bald­win pre­pares to marry for the first time, she shares the bit­ter­sweet process of mov­ing on from her old life

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

Idrove my pis­ta­chio green Vespa around Poole har­bour at a snail’s pace, wip­ing the tears from my eyes. ‘I can’t do it. I can’t let her go,’ I whis­pered. I had al­ready found a new owner for my scooter but I was hav­ing a ma­jor wob­ble. Sell­ing Scoots, as I called her, had seemed an ob­vi­ous choice. She’d sat aban­doned in my gar­den, un­used and unloved, ever since I’d bought my car. So why was I now in tur­moil?

As I rode into the breeze, the an­swer hit me: my Vespa was a sym­bol of my sin­gle life – of the thrill-seek­ing, risk-tak­ing solo ad­ven­turer I used to be be­fore I met my fi­ancé – and I clearly had mixed feel­ings about leav­ing that woman be­hind.

I bought Scoots when I was 33, af­ter mov­ing to Lon­don fol­low­ing 10 years abroad. For the next decade, she whisked me to my job as a re­porter in the Houses of Par­lia­ment, to friends’ par­ties and to dates with guys I met on­line. She rep­re­sented free­dom, in­de­pen­dence and spon­tane­ity – ev­ery­thing I loved about be­ing on my own.

I was now 47, liv­ing in Dorset with the man I would marry and I trav­elled in a com­fort­able car. I had wanted this for so long – a lov­ing com­pan­ion, a sta­ble life, a home near the sea and a ful­fill­ing and flex­i­ble ca­reer as an au­thor and coach. I was de­lighted with my new sta­tus but there were as­pects of my for­mer self I re­ally missed.

Back in my 20s, my life and re­la­tion­ships were as colour­ful and crazy as the coun­tries I set­tled in for a while. Af­ter back­pack­ing solo through Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Fiji and the United States, I lived in Mex­ico and Brazil for nine years. I par­tied in Aca­pulco, wa­ter-skied on a la­goon, danced in Rio’s Car­ni­val, and ca­noed through the Ama­zon.

I thrived on meet­ing new peo­ple, so easy when trav­el­ling alone or with friends, and dated men of dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties. I had a re­la­tion­ship that lasted four years – we lived to­gether in São Paulo for a while – but deep down, I al­ways felt sin­gle and free.

I con­tin­ued to soak up the sin­gle life back in Lon­don. I drank Cham­pagne at happy hour in Covent Gar­den bars, hol­i­dayed in Ibiza and went out with good-look­ing guys I met through work, friends or in clubs. But there were dark times, too. As my 30s pro­gressed, I re­alised I’d had a binge-eat­ing dis­or­der since my teens, and that I drank to ex­cess and ex­er­cised com­pul­sively. I also be­gan to won­der why all my re­la­tion­ships failed.

TURN­ING POINT

I got help, let go of my food crutch, quit my high-stress job to work for my­self and be­gan to ex­plore my faulty re­la­tion­ship pat­terns in ther­apy. I saw that I dated un­avail­able types and ran away from the good guys be­cause I too was scared of com­mit­ment and ter­ri­fied of get­ting hurt.

By my late 30s I was mak­ing bet­ter choices in love, al­though none of my re­la­tion­ships lasted. I had a busy so­cial life but felt ter­ri­bly lonely at times. As 40 ap­proached, I had mo­ments of panic – how did I end up with no part­ner and no kids?

Just af­ter turn­ing 40, I went to

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