Do you remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie sits alone at a restaurant, to get over her fear of being alone? She makes a point not to bring any of her usual "armor" - computer, book, etc. and to simply be in the moment with herself.
Lesson: Dining alone is empowering and - like everything else in SATC - fabulous.
Now how about that episode of Friends where Rachel goes out to dinner by herself because everyone else has other plans? She ends up losing a date with a guy because he sees her eating by herself and decides she is a "freak who eats alone".
Lesson: Dining alone is pathetic and - like everything else in Friends - funny.
Studio 921 Salon and Day Spa the other day, feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after having a facial. (Yes, I get those now.)
In the end, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and walked the fifteen feet across the courtyard from the spa and into The Wine Market, a local bistro and wine shop. I'd been there before, usually to grab a quick glass of wine either before or after a salon appointment. The atmosphere is pretty chill (do people still use the word "chill"?). Though I usually like my bistros a bit darker and homier (think deep reds and dim lights), this place is fun with its bright and modern decor.
I went in, armed with a book and my smartphone in case a pang of dining-alone-anxiety kicked in. I told myself I would at least try to do it the Carrie way - no armor, no shields. Just me and my glass of wine.
Oh yes, and the most amazing-tasting Brussels sprouts and mac and cheese appetizers. They have inspired me in ways I won't get to today. But believe me, the time will come...
In the end, I didn't need my rescue materials. I was perfectly content to sit there, sipping my wine, crunching on crispy Brussels sprouts and diving into creamy macaroni and cheese, all the while taking in the sights and sounds around me.
Like the bartender and waiter surreptitiously talking about the rich guy who ordered the ridiculously overpriced bottle of red at table seven, which led to a hushed debate over whether or not to decant the holy elixir at the bar or at the table.
Or the bottle of organic cucumber vodka sitting on the shelf, standing a bit apart from the myriad other non-organic flavored spirits.
And the beautiful deep maroon of the paint splattered on the otherwise white wall at the back of the bar. I wondered - did someone spend hours painstakingly deciding on the design of the splatter, or was it a happy accident?
So many things noticed; things that, had I had a dining companion, would have totally slipped past me. Perhaps they weren't the most important things to remember, or think about, or even notice at all, but in the end they added up to a deeper and more engaging dining experience. All of my senses were free to engage themselves however they saw fit. I had the luxury of following my every whim, because I had no one to answer to but myself.
Self discovery with a side of Brussels sprouts.
And all it took was a little courage and a chilled glass of Vouvray.
Eat well. Even if you're by yourself when you're doing it.