I dropped Ariel off at the airport yesterday morning and the first half of the day was harder than I thought it would be. I’d gotten used to the two of us doing everything together. The place felt empty without her there. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and spent most of the day kind of wandering…if you can call it that.
I’d start to go somewhere and then change my mind. I’d walk to the beach, sit down for ten minutes and walk back, walk to the corner restaurant and turn around and walk back without even going in. I finally settled on laying on a lounge chair at the pool, and reading. Later I went out for a few groceries and then sat on my screen porch and listened to the corner bar band belt out the standard cover songs. Nothing seemed the same by myself.
That first day on my own turned out to be a wash.
But the next day I got up early for a run and went out to find breakfast on my own. Thought I’d try the only coffee place along the beach, but it was closed for the weekend. So I drove into town and found the Good Times diner, a popular joint with an older crowd. As I sat enjoying my coffee, the place began to fill up with retired couples until I began to feel a little guilty about taking up an entire booth to myself.
Lingering wasn’t really an option anymore as the hostess peered around the room looking to identify the next available table and estimate the wait for a party of four. I gave up my seat out of sheer courtesy. I downed the last of the coffee and took my check to the counter. The hostess thanked me for allowing the others to have the table, and I replied, “no problem.”
But there was a little bit of a problem. If I’d been enjoying coffee with anyone else, I wouldn’t have been as quick to give up my spot. In a restaurant full of tables for 2-6, what’s a solo girl to do when seating is at a premium?
By late afternoon, I decided to risk the restaurant thing again and go to dinner at the Beach Road Wine Bar & Bistro, one of our favorite places the last time Ariel and I were down in Englewood together. This time we weren’t able to make it because we had so many other amazing adventures lined up. We just couldn’t fit it all in.
So I decided to have dinner there in her honor on my last night near the beach. I wore my long black comfy skirt and a peach colored tank top. I fixed my hair in my own classic side pony which is my go to style in hot weather as it holds my curls in check. I took along my denim jacket because I planned to sit outside and the evenings were still on the cool side.
“Can I have a table for one?” gets easier to say the more you do it. Eventually, you stop cringing at the host’s reaction as they wonder where they’re going to put you. This time, I didn’t wait for their reaction, but boldly requested a spot near the water.
The food, the wine, the ambience were more or less the same as when I’d been there before with Ariel, only quieter. Instead of a lively conversation between two, when we take ourselves out to dinner we only have our own thoughts to entertain us, so we need to choose them wisely.
We can either feel sorry for ourselves for being alone, or gaze straight out into the world and assign beauty and goodness to all we see. One choice separates us and makes us feel “less than” other people, places and things around us. The other line of thinking helps us identify with them and perceive ourselves as part of the good which makes us feel more whole.
So when I have the nerve to ask myself what the heck I’m doing here alone, my answer is a reminder: I’m learning how to be alone with myself and not judge or condemn my “condition.” I’m learning discernment, how to know what I love. I’m learning to love myself inside and out. I’m learning how to be love, even if it hurts just a little.
It can be tough to know who we really are until we have a chance to experiment alone. The important point is to face that moment of choice and refuse the option to feel sorry for ourselves because that’s only ever an affirmation of our disconnectedness from others and the world. It says, “I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy of this type of experience nor am I enough on my own. Essentially, I’m sorry for being who I am.”
So next time you have the choice, refuse that line of thinking with all your might and reach down deep and affirm: “I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do.”
Add…., “and Love is in the air,” for good measure.