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
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.
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