5.09.2013

solo dating

Sushi

When I was in San Francisco, I took myself out to dinner. It almost didn't happen.

It's not that I have a problem dining out alone. It's more than the allure of the television screen and pajama bottoms in my hotel room almost outweighed the allure of a solo meal at a sushi counter. But in that brief moment after the waitress offered me water, I didn't give myself a chance to say, "Could I actually place a take out order?" and instead took the plunge into the world of solitary dining that I hadn't seen for awhile.

I sat at that sushi counter and read Water for Elephants on my iPhone. After awhile, I glanced up and watched my chef, skillfully skinning fish and wrapping rolls with nimble fingers. And as a group of young women began gathering for dinner behind me, I vicariously enjoyed their friendship, smiling at their laughter and the comparisons they were making between San Francisco and Boston.

My sushi was amazing. I noticed that the spicy tuna roll didn't have the pinkish mayonnaise sauce I'm used to seeing. So I shouldn't have been surprised that after dipping it in my wasabi-laced soy sauce, I was hit behind my sinuses with a little sledgehammer in my head, and my eyes spilled over with tears in the middle of that quiet restaurant. Turns out, my roll was laced with red pepper flakes, the likes of which I have never experienced before. But let me tell you...once you've cried in a restaurant alone, you will always feel comfortable on a date with yourself.

At the end of the night, I realized that this evening had been one of the happiest moments I had in that city. I was so fully present with my food and my thoughts and my surroundings. I enjoyed the company of others and the company of myself at the same time. And when it came time to walk home, I felt full of possibility...coffee shops, dessert, an evening walk?

My friend Julie recently wrote about the experience of travelling alone when you're used to spending so much time with your other. And while I experienced some of that on this trip, that night of sushi was about more than just being away from others...it was about being with myself. I guess I thought I was with myself all the time...on my train ride into work or when I'm alone in the apartment. But in those same-old same-old places, I just run into my self that I already know. "Hey there...you again." When I took myself out to dinner, it was more like a first date. "Hey there...you like sushi? Ha ha...didn't think it would be that spicy? Oh also...you look really cute tonight." It's a happy place, that one where you sort of get to fall in love with yourself and the world all over again.

Nice to meet you, self. Let's do it again soon.

17 comments:

  1. Beautifully put, Claire. Little dates with myself are one of my favorite parts about travelling alone- sometimes I even get a glass of wine!

    ReplyDelete
  2. "once you've cried in a restaurant alone, you will always feel comfortable on a date with yourself."
    hahah aaaw, well I'm glad you were only crying over some pepper flakes ;)

    I love taking myself out on dates every once in a while. I like the added bonus of not having to share bites with anyone. All mine!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post. I'm always wary of eating by myself for some reason, but the way you put it makes it sound like a refreshing experience. Noted!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This post is so lovely, Clair. I've only ever gone to dinner alone when it was the only option: travelling alone, A gone, on the way to a destination, etc. But, lately I've been trying to step out of the box and spend more time by myself. The catalyst for that has truly been running, where's I'm alone with myself for an hour each day. Yesterday instead of taking the bus down Michigan Avenus after a doctor's appointment, I walked the mile long stretch by myself, listening to sunny pop music, and taking pictures of sidewalk gardens. There was no destination other than to enjoy the city and some time alone. Thanks for this essay and for making me think more about how I can fit time with myself more into my life.

    And dude, somehow I never put it together that you and Julie might know eachother from when she was in Boston! Haha.

    xx, eileen
    www.leanerbythelake.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's inspired me to be a bit more independent too. J and I are sometimes attached at the hip, and even though I love spending time with him, it's nice to make spontaneous decisions for ME.

      And sadly, Julie and I never met before she left! It's a depressing thought that we missed the opportunity for a local friendship. But that's the beauty of blogging I guess, and we were lucky enough to meet on her last visit!

      Delete
  5. I really enjoy going to coffee shops by myself but the one time that I dined alone in a nice restaurant (in San Francisco, actually!) I felt very out of place. I didn't know where to look while I was eating. I felt like I was staring at other people so I ended up looking down at my plate. I think if I ever dine again, the table will have to have a window view so I have something to look at.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, window views are great, and a little (noncreepy) people watching is always fun. I do usually bring something along to read, but try to take a break from it every once in awhile so I can be sure to enjoy what's going on around me.

      Delete
  6. I like that you're hitting on yourself...seems like this relationship could go somewhere! You're so right about novelty shocking you into the present moment; it really is a fantastic feeling. Almost as good as weepy spicy tuna :) Thanks for the shout-out, girl, and glad you had fun!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Laughing out loud and your expression there! Well put. And good thing it was just pepper flakes ;) xo

    ReplyDelete
  8. I. love. this. So simply and beautifully written. I often sit in coffee shops alone, but I feel like me + myself are ready to take the plunge into going on a solo date, esp. after reading this... :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this post! The last time I ate alone in a restaurant, I tried cutting a wonton with my spoon and it splashed out of my bowl (along with much of the broth)! I didn't cry like you did, but I wanted to. :) xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHAHAAAA! I can just imagine.

      Delete
  10. YES. being with yourself. just being. loved this. i've spent a lot of time alone in my time and i love it. when i travel more on my own i've done it, but it's even more special now that i share my time with someone else so much. it used to be a bit more lonely because after some time, when you're spending the majority of your time with just yourself, it's just the way it feels. but remembering your relationship with yourself as you start spending more time with someone else is so important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's a funny transition, isn't it?

      Delete
  11. YES! this is my favorite, favorite, favorite thing to do when i travel. everything is so calm. the food tastes better. and you'd be surprised to see how many people will join you/ approach you when you're alone :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for making me smile. =)