Aside from flat-out failure, uncertainty is my biggest fear. Alone I can do no problem, but uncertain is another story.
This paralyzing uncertainty is assuaged by the presence of my husband, loud music in a gassed up car on a familiar road, and something technological to fiddle with in my right hand–those three things and nothing more.
You might imagine then the difficulty that comes with solitary dinners in a foreign town.
You might imagine my inner distress when faced with dinner decisions that ought not be carried out in parking lots, doors locking me away from the world with one of many Publix salads while away at a conference for a full week.
But let me tell you this. Few things are more liberating than walking into a swanky Italian restaurant at nine p.m. on a rainy evening in a dark new town and saying, when they ask the number in your party, a solid and sure “one.”
I confess. I took pictures of my food. I was one of those.
But let me tell you this also. I was documenting a birth.
Aside from owning a home and having several children, this was the singular most adult act I’ve ever engaged in. I made conversation with the server, who I found out was from California. We bonded over our beachy roots in the beautiful but landlocked Nashvegas. She brought samples. She sent compliments to the chef.
I left so full and tall that I did it again the next night.
And the next.
And the next.
In the process of being alone in a restaurant, I learned to be alone other places, too–on benches, in bookstores, and even just in a car. I’m so seldom without children that something as simple as seeing a strange fish sculpture wearing a hat ended up being a highlight of the day.
And the skies looked different. I don’t think I’ve noticed them, noticed them in years.
It’s a tragedy for a writer to say this, truly.
Even the books got more looks from my alone-for-the-first-time eyes.
I even found one just for me.by