The Art of Dining Alone

This week I took myself to dinner. One of my regular haunts. I couldn’t drink alcohol all week in prep for my spinal MRI. With the contrast dye my one kidney needs all the support it can get. A couple saddle up beside me. “What is that you’re eating” she inquired under her husband’s grimace. “He hates when I talk to strangers”.

“The Bolognese” I replied. “You’re an east coaster that’s why you talk to strangers” I explained.

“New Yawk” she confirmed what I already knew.

I explained how Seattlites are prone to the freeze. And that most times when someone chats me up they are from the east. I shared that I hailed from outside Philly. My Dad was a Jersey boy who swept my Seattle momma off her feet. They shared this was their first visit to the Emerald City, how their son got an internship with Microsoft while enviably eyeing my beignets.

In fairness, it might just be the nature of being a traveler. I find people expand themselves beyond their comfort zones while out of town. However, butting themselves into another’s space is something East Coaster’s do naturally. Something I hope to never lose.

“You must really love this place to eat here by yourself.”

I eat out alone all the time I held my tongue.

I’ve been single for a while now (6+ years). I go to the movies and out to my favorite restaurants, to concerts and dancing if the mood strikes, even on vacation. It has become old hat. And often I meet someone truly fabulous I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Like the young 25 year old dynamo visiting Seattle for a family reunion, excited to be able to finally rent a car by herself. It was like seeing a younger me. Our chat sidled to the bar has become one of my top 10 life moments. People are simply- FUCKING AMAZING.

Now my newly widowed co-worker has yet to brave dinner alone. Talking with her I tried to remember back to my first time. It was just after my first divorce, before my second. I chose one of my regular haunts, a restaurant that my best friend and her boyfriend worked at, so safe. And I brought a book to look busy if necessary. It wasn’t. Gradually I went out more and more and left the books home.