34

I love dressing casually and going to a fancy restaurant by myself. They usually sit me at the bar, best spot in the house if you ask me. Especially when it’s open plan and you can watch everyone from where you are sitting.

First things first, some light banter with the staff. It’s great to chat and ask them how they are doing. Sometimes, I wonder what they think of me but it’s just a fleeting thought because deep down I don’t really care. I used to though.

A lot of people ask me how to eat out alone. I don’t know when it started or how I became so comfortable doing it but when I was a teenager, I distinctly remember imagining myself eating out alone as an adult. I was imagining exactly what I do now.

Is there a method? Are there rules? Not really.
It’s not hard when you do it but it’s hard to imagine how you would do it when you have yet to take that first leap to be in your own your own company while in public. People will look at you and some will even ask questions.

How do you occupy your time when you eat out alone? That’s up to you. You can read a book, you can play on your phone or you can people watch. I go between people watching and playing on my phone. There are definitely other ways you can do it, but I have yet to explore them.

When I watch people, I imagine a life I don’t have. I watch couples and how they engage – whispering sweet nothings to each other and deciding what they will order. Sometimes I make up a story around them. How far are they into dating? What do they bicker about? And of course, what’s the occasion?
Sometimes, when I get deep into the story, I start to feel what they feel in the narrative I have created.

The frustration one partner feels at the other partner’s perceived lack of care.
You’re always on your phone at dinner. Why can’t we just have a conversation without our phones?

The way one partner gazes deeply into the other’s eyes as they talk, drinking up every word.
I love you and I am listening with all my heart.

The way they both sit on their phones the whole time and barely exchange a word with one and other. I shouldn’t have made that comment back at the hotel before. Tonight was meant to be special.

Then, on the odd occasion I see someone like me. Alone and watching. Our eyes meet for the briefest of moments. Smiling eyes and an unspoken understanding.
Let’s not observe one and other, too close to home.
Agreed.

Maybe this is a me thing, but when you watch other people interact for such a long time, you can’t help but compare your own experiences of human interaction.
You wonder why you don’t interact with people like that.
Why people don’t interact with you like that.
You wonder why over the years you have more outings with yourself than you do with other people.
Look, it isn’t good to dwell on this too much. It can get dark very quickly and so I tell myself that while I’m an independent person who has a lot of time alone, I have some amazing people around me who are also quite independent. We may not interact like the people I observe, but our interactions are still enriching and warm.

When it comes down to it, I am comfortable in my own company and it doesn’t prevent me from going out and enjoying a nice meal somewhere, a drink or even a movie. Heck, I even travel alone.

So, as I sit here on my 34th trip around the sun, I wonder what the years ahead of me hold. Up until now, I’ve accomplished a lot and I will accomplish a lot more.
I want better for myself, and I want to be better.

I don’t know where I’m going or what will happen in the year ahead but deep down, I feel something stirring.  Some unfathomable excitement of something I can’t quite grasp but feels closer than it ever has.

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