Eating Alone

I've finally gotten the hang of eating alone.

Last summer, and all of last year really, I was too scared to eat alone. Sure, I'd get a falafel on the street and go enjoy it in a park by myself, but no matter how badly I wanted to I could not get my feet to take me inside a restaurant and sit down. By myself. Alone.

I'm over that now, mostly. Or I'm much better at getting over myself, at least.

This is my process. I read my book until I'm given a menu and then continue to read until my food comes. Once my food arrives, I listen to an audiobook or a podcast (I cannot read while eating. For some reason I incapable of reading while either one of my hands is actively doing something else). I only put one earbud in so I'm aware of my surroundings and so I don't shut the rest of the restaurant out.  After all, even when dining alone eating out is still a collective experience. I am content with my books and podcasts and food. I am happy.

But then, in typical 22-year-old fashion, I'll think "Wow I wish I had someone to share this with. I wish I had a boyfriend to travel with."

Those feelings are quick and fleeting when I realize that someday when I'm older, I'll wish I could go back to these exact moments.

Someday I will be older and (probably? most likely?) married and we'll get into a fight over something dumb and I'll be so angry and I'd give anything to go back to being 22, to being truly alone. To enjoy a meal without talking to anyone, to not having any responsibilities. I'd give anything to walk home alone at my own pace and have no one waiting for me except my own bed. 

Now, whenever I walk home alone at night and wishing I had a companion, I'm also walking with the acute feeling that 44-year-old me is sooooo jealous of 22-year-old me right now. And I shouldn't waste either of our time by longing for something that I don't currently have instead of enjoying what I do have. Which is an unmeasurable amount of freedom.

All of this freedom feels too big for me right now. I can't comprehend it. Probably won't be able to comprehend it until I have a career, a mortgage, a kid, a husband, until my time is split between a thousand responsibilities. I won't be able to fully appreciate these moments until I have enough hindsight to do all the work for me.

Hmmmm. I could keep thinking about this, but I think I'll just go have another beer.

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