For the third time in the last eight days I dined alone at a restaurant. Prior to this last week, I could count on one hand the number of times I have eaten alone in a restaurant. Having been married all of my adult life, there just haven’t been many times when I’ve traveled by myself and, the few times I have, I’ve almost always chosen to get something to-go to eat in my hotel room, rather than brave the restaurant scene on my own.
Last weekend, I chose to eat breakfast by myself twice rather than scarf down a breakfast on the go. I was in Eugene where there is a restaurant that serves one of my all-time favorite breakfasts, so I endured the discomfort and forced myself to head for the restaurant. I had prepared myself for the idea of sitting at a table alone, but when I arrived and found there was a wait to be seated I was a little taken aback. I hadn’t planned on standing around waiting – the only solo amongst families and couples chatting and laughing while waiting for seats. I did fine, though, but I have to admit I was relieved when there wasn’t a wait the second day. The second day I was seated next to a window, which I found to be much, more comforting than being seated against a wall as I had been the first day. With a window I could look outside and daydream without the need to busy my eyes in an attempt to keep from staring at those sitting at full tables.
Tonight when I had to make the decision whether to eat out at a local place highly touted for its food or to just drive thru Taco Bell, I headed for the waterfront restaurant. I almost turned away at the last minute, but realizing it was still early, I was hopeful a good table would be available. Summoning my self-confidence (or, at least, faking it well), I said to the hostess, “I’ll be dining alone tonight. Is there a table near the window that would be conducive to looking at the scenery?” I was seated at a table with a view of Puget Sound and the ferry landing – beautiful! I had a wonderful dinner, enjoyed the scenery and complimented myself on my ability to enjoy my dinner even though I thought it would have been more enjoyable with a dining companion. However, as I left the restaurant I looked around at the couples and groups seated throughout the restaurant. Most looked like they were having a good time, but there were a few that were, obviously, only going through the motions. One woman in particular caught my eye. She was seated at a two-top across from a man who seemed to be her date, maybe even her husband, and she looked miserable. As I walked by her and felt her boredom, her discomfort, her sadness, I realized that, while dining alone isn’t my preferred choice, at least I enjoy the company I’m with.