Hello, my name is Rae and I am a creature of habit. I feel I had to state this in ‘I’m introducing myself to Alcoholics Anonymous’ kind of way as it seems like a bit of a taboo to admit. Being a creature of habit sounds so, well, boring. It also seems a bit of a paradox: I have spent much of the last few weeks blogging about my love of freedom, how much independence means to me etc, yet at the same time I like to create my own routines & rhythms & patterns.
I say like, but what I really mean is that I do it without realising. I don’t consciously crave routine or sameness; it’s just something that seems to emerge, just seems to happen. Only occasionally do I even notice. And I’ve noticed three little habits over the past few days…
1) Wembley: returning home from London on Saturday, I found myself looking out of the train window specifically for Wembley Stadium. Whatever regular journey I make, I create my own signposts along the route. Sometimes these are large, obvious markers, such as Wembley Stadium when travelling to/from London or the Angel of the North when going to Northumberland. More often, they are small, seemingly insignficant details; a particular cottage, a certain field, favourite signs. I only usually realise that these habits of looking have developed when I happen to not spot them (something must have distracted me on Saturday as I managed to miss Wembley!) or they disappear (I was greatly distressed when a beautiful old ‘Daily Telegraph Sold Here’ sign over one of the kiosks in Stockport station was replaced by a boring standardized sign for coffee).
2) Chinese food: last night, I had a girlie night in with my sister-in-law. Perusing the takeaway menus, we discussed the advantage of buffet restaurants – not having to pick one or two dishes but being able to have a variety of foods. On the spur of the moment, we ditched the takeaway idea & headed off to our nearest Chinese buffet restaurant in order to take advantage of the vast range of dishes. And what did I do? Of course, I ended up eating what I always eat. I did have other things too, but the bulk of my meal was still what I would have ordered from the takeaway: a green pepper & black bean sauce dish (I do vary the meat that I choose; I’m not so rigid as to always pick chicken or beef. Although I guess that’s only the next step along the way…).
3) Workaday routine: back to a full working day today after the long break. The last time I sat at my desk & worked in this way was 15th June. And what happened? Not only did I fall back into my usual working routines, but the patterns reasserted themselves in terms of the evening too: after dinner, if not going out then doing some little chores while listening to the sports programmes on Radio 5Live.
I didn’t realise that this way of structuring my evenings in was even a habit until today, when I realised that I had missed spending my time in this way. Sitting down to write some letters, with witterings about football & cricket in the background, I suddenly felt very comfortable & very at home. Maybe these feelings explain why I’m such a creature of habit. Maybe it’s not a paradox at all – maybe I create my own rhythms & routines & patterns as a way of creating some feeling of order & certainty within a life that lacks many boundaries & commitments – I’m a creature of habit in order to create structure in a life that is largely unstructured. Or maybe I am just boring.