That’s right. I just walk up to the corner, take a peek down the road, and very casually throw an arm up. By myself.
I also ask for directions, question strangers about how to fix my defective Oyster card, pester salespeople about confusing labels at the grocery store.
Considering that I am a 28-year-old woman, you might not see why I even bother to bring these things up. None of the above are especially difficult or bold. Unless you’re me. Because in addition to being prone to homesickness, I am terrible at advocating for myself, even in smallest sense.
If you need a strongly worded letter, a shoulder to cry on, a running partner, someone to tell you the truth about your new boyfriend/dress/job/tattoo, I am your girl. If you need someone to approach strangers to ask questions, I am not your girl. Never have been. Despite being significantly older than my sister and therefore theoretically more able to do the asking, it only took me a few years to train her to do it for me. Since I was about 8 years old, I considered her my personal representative. I had her pay for the pizza when we drove the Power Wheel up to Little Caesar’s to pick up dinner. I had her ask for my size in shoe stores. I requested that she do the talking when our order was messed up at a restaurant. And if we were taking a bus or train, I made sure she did the talking when confirming we were on the right route. As we got older, she would protest, tell me to do it myself, and I wouldn’t, because she was better at it. That’s what I told her, and myself.
Eventually, I moved out and was forced by circumstance to do some of these tasks on my own. But I had already become an expert at getting other people to do them for me without even asking directly. It’s an art. My roommates, my friends, my boyfriends and now my husband have all, knowingly and unknowingly, asked all these questions on my behalf.
It’s not exactly clear what my fear is. I am not shy. I am not inexperienced. I suppose I am just intimidated by situations in which I am not completely sure of myself. It may be cowardly to get other people to do simple but sometimes awkward tasks for me…OR it might be extremely resourceful. I think I like the sound of that better.
Now that I am in London, I might be the most alone I have ever been, in terms of having easy access to people who can do my bidding. I spend most of my time with two toddlers, who are terrible at asking for directions, and the rest mostly by myself. No one else left to do the asking. I do it, I am fine with it, but I can tell you honestly I prefer it the other way.