When Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s daughter Sunday Rose was born, Nicole explained to, I think it was Oprah, the idea behind her baby's name: Sunday is her and Keith’s favourite day of the week. There’s something to do with Sundays, she explains, that if you’re lonely, it is a very lonely day. But surrounded by family, then Sunday is a beautiful day. This isn’t a post about celebrity baby names – that would take too long – but it was her observation of this particular day of the week that struck me this afternoon.
So today, I found myself on the wrong kind of Sunday. The weather was lovely, a little bit sunny, a little bit breezy. Staying indoors would have been a crime. I decided to drive myself to Penny Farthing in Northcote for lunch and a coffee, alone, before heading down the road to the Westgarth for a mid-afternoon session of PJ Hogan’s latest, Mental, also alone. Friends were busy; family, out of town.
I’m not normally one to shy from doing things on my own. For most of my life, I have been content, indeed, sought comfort, in being in my own company. Growing up an only child and an introvert, I have, on countless occasions, found myself at a cafe or in the park in the company of Jane Eyre or Cleo, at the cinema with an empty seat on either side, or even at a matinee showing of an MTC production ($33 tickets if you’re under 30 – get onto it!) by myself. I’ve travelled across continents alone, meeting people along the way, building friendships, some fleeting, others that have endured to this day. But then, onwards I go, to the next destination, the solitary traveller on a bus, train or plane, just me and my backpack and the dishevelled copy of Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring.
Which is why it threw me that I was suddenly feeling self-conscious today. As I got closer to the cafe, an image entered my head that I couldn’t shake – young, hippy couples clutching their long blacks, recovering from their hangovers, groups of girlfriends laughing loudly and freely, families with their screaming toddlers and babycinos. People with their people. Everyone making the most of the last few hours of the weekend before the ticking of 60 Minutes signals the shift from pants-optional weekend to Monday-itis. Perhaps, also, fine weather demands that you be social, damn it.
I stepped into the busy Penny Farthing and sat down at the seat nearest to me, hoping to attract as little attention as possible. I immediately pulled out my newest copy of Frankie and went to make eye contact with the waitress. That’s when I took in my surroundings. I was on a large communal dining table which sat about eight or ten. Beside me was a girl who appeared to have brought her entire Apple family. There was the Macbook, connected to the iPhone connected to the latest headsets. She was oblivious to the world. Beside her was another girl, looking very cool reading a Penguin classic paperback while picking away at her muffin. To my right, a lady, somewhere in her late 40s, was taking her seat. She was on her way home from doing the shopping and just wanted to have a coffee, she explained to the waitress, as she pulled out the Sunday Life lift-out from her paper to read Chrissie Swan.
None of us talked to each other. No one tried. And that’s how we like it, us going-to-public-places-alone-even-on-a-Sunday types, each content in the company of our respective laptops/books/newspapers/magazines. I needn’t have worried after all.