I’m sitting alone in the bar at an airport hotel at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Back in Maui, where I flew in from an hour earlier, it is just before six o’clock in the evening. Here it is almost nine at night. It’s late but it’s not, depending on which time zone I choose to see myself in. My mind tells me to head to bed, my stomach tells me to eat. I choose to listen to my stomach, but I don’t want the full service of a restaurant. The bar feels more relaxed and informal.

People are chatting, television screens show live sports, voices and the sound of clattering cutlery drift over from the nearby restaurant. So different from the world that I have just arrived from.

For all the activity, and the sound and stimulation that come with it, I find myself in my happy place. I’m by myself despite and maybe because of this busyness around me? And yet I love sitting in this anonymity. I’ve used this phrase before, but I’m sitting alone in the company of others. For this introvert, I can feel more comfortable around such strangers than in a room full of people who I know.

I am returning to England for my mother’s 90th birthday celebration. There will be a gathering of relatives, most of whom I have not seen in a long while. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, catching up on news, finding out where life has taken them…and I can already feel in me the angst of the gathering. This might be hard to understand for the socializers in the room, but for me small talk and what I will experience as the busyness of a party can get the best of me. I am soon exhausted. If I lock onto a conversation with someone about something that really interests me, I can still be sat there in that conversation when everyone else are packing up to leave. I loose myself in the conversation. Introvert, yes. Short on words, no…given the right circumstances.

However, that evening at SFO the company of others was very welcome. I sat quite content alone, in the company of others. That evening I remember fondly.