alone.

As an introvert, I know I’m supposed to enjoy doing things alone. Being by myself is supposed to restore my spirit and make me feel most myself. And generally, that’s true. Except in one area: dining. I used to recoil from  eating alone. I still shudder to remember walking through a noisy cafeteria, tray in hand, desperately scanning faces trying not to look like I was desperately scanning faces. If no inviting countenance was glimpsed, I played the part of a solitary scholar and ate in the shadow of a book. Being an introvert, it was not an option to just say “Hello! Is this seat taken?” and plunk down next to another eating-alone stranger. Then there was the dark time I found myself both companionless and bookless. It was not my most dignified moment when I pulled out my cell phone, pretended there was someone on the other end, and ate as quickly as I could. (Promise you’ll keep that a secret, m’kay?)

No longer.

I recently found myself with a baby free morning and nowhere specific to go. I decided to head to Uncommon Ground, a local spot that wears a rooftop farm as a crown. Instead of the coffeeshop atmosphere I was expecting, I was greeted by a hostess who seated me with a menu. I felt the tingle of my old  anxiety in my finger tips for just a moment. Dining alone?

Oh yes.

Now I steep in it, this eating by myself. I sat at that table with nothing but the condiments across from me and let myself suffuse. A kettle sang in the kitchen as I exhaled the tensions that seemed to cling to me more tenaciously than a toddler. (At least toddlers can be left with a sitter. I’ve yet to find someone who will tend my worries with the same care that I do.) Through windows pin pricked with rain I watched the tide of people outside at the bus stop while, inside, my thoughts began to color the air around me. My fingers lingered around a hot mug, purposefully feeling the warmth slowly ebb away instead of abandoning it after only a sip or two. An hour passed as I spooned at a berry and yogurt parfait. (Drizzled with honey gathered from hives on the roof just above my head!) I read and reread paragraphs from my book, squeezing out all the the beauty I could from words like these:

“All ingredients need salt. The noodle or tender spring pea would be narcissistic to imagine it already contained within its cell walls all the perfection it would ever need. We seem, too, to fear that we are failures at being tender and springy if we need to be seasoned. It’s not so:  it doesn’t reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself.”
- Tamar Adler An Everlasting Meal

Indeed.

These hours dining alone were a much needed dash of salt.

 

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Posted in Uncategorized 5 years, 3 months ago at 1:32 pm.

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  1. I understand and remember what it was like, Jana


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