For the first installment of How to Be Alone…we go a’dining! The events below are what brought about this new series. Mangia!
June 20th, 2011
Tonight was the last night I had left. It was the worst and most perfect moment for the task: dining alone.
Last month at the end of our Skype call with Katie and Brig, we had assigned ourselves this challenge to complete in the next thirty days. This was the most frightening option for me… which is also why I lobbied so hard for it to be our June assignment! Oh, blasted fate.
Tonight wasn’t the first time I had thought about going to dinner all by myself, but it was the last chance I had before our next call. I had a few opportunities earlier in the month to complete this task but had pushed them aside. So the day before our call I had a date with myself. Problem: It happened to be one of the worst days of my life.
Something had just rocked my personal life hours before, making me want to just to curl up and sit with the pain. The last thing I wanted to do was be out in public, especially alone, with no one to divert my attention.
As I pulled myself out of my office, I was grateful for the warm, sun drenched evening and the fact that I had dressed up for this occasion. I walked down the street to a new Italian place I had been wanting to try. Seeing that they had outdoor seating, I knew this was the place. I chose a deliciously peppery pasta alfredo, and realized this was my very own Eat, Pray, Love moment! Similar to Liz Gilbert, I allowed myself to bask in the joy of eating, slowly savoring each bite and the intoxicating experience of dining in public, solo. Not only that, but this took place just yards away from where I saw the movie version nearly one year ago. Ironic, for sure!
Better than the food, or the random mimicry of one of my favorite books, was the spirit of the evening. Dining alone was exciting, exhilarating and a bit euphoric. Women walked by me, doing a double take once they noticed it was only me and carbs a’plenty sharing the table. One even nodded in approval to me! My waiter came by often, striking up conversation and leaving some flirtatious sentiments, the best being “I like your freckles”.
A mere fifty-five minutes with myself, the sun, the pasta, and the stares of others, I had finished up quicker than I expected. I left to drive home, knowing I had to face the aforementioned tragedy. My dining experience wouldn’t change that. It was just a beautiful pausing, a break. However, I left the restaurant not only with a fullness in my belly but a small seed of joy in my heart. If I could, on a day as incredibly hard as this one, enjoy an experience all of my own making, I knew I had discovered a powerful inner strength. This evening’s birthing of strong confidence and love of myself had given me the knowledge that I would get through the next step in life. Even if it lead me to where I feared it would and eventually did: of being more alone.
But then again, that just gives me the chance to share more adventures. And the next time I need a dosing of inner strength, I can call on my night of peppery pasta, and bring forward the courage to say yes to the hope within me.