Last night I found myself with about an hour to kill before a 9:15 meeting in Hell’s Kitchen and decided to run by Zen Palate for something to eat. I almost always go there when I am in the neighborhood. I have such fond memories of sitting at their counter during my first year in NYC. I didn’t really have a problem eating alone when I moved to New York, but now It’s a required skill. I’m often roaming the city alone with hours of hungry down time to kill between events, eating alone just happens. And it happens frequently.
Last night, however, I hesitated and almost didn’t go for the oddest of reasons: my phone battery was about to die.
That’s the interesting thing about dining out alone. I always want to be busy with something else. Some activity that says, “I just happen to be eating while doing this” instead of “I am a perpetually single, unloveable loser.”
“Just go eat.” I said this out loud as I wove through meandering tourists on 8th Ave and headed West. How bad could it be to just eat and be there alone?
It wasn’t terrible, but when that screen shut off and I was left facing an empty chair, a plate full of sesame medallions and the two page program from my friend’s (decidedly brilliant) one man show as my only companion I that the time had come to admit it:
I was alone.
I mean, I already knew it, but it hit me then how hard I try to avoid acknowledging this fact throughout the day. Text messaging my way down the sidewalk to the train. Facebooking a photo of the dinner I just made for myself. Searching #walkingdead while watching TV. I spend a lot of energy pretending not to be alone most of the time.
About a year ago (honestly, I have no concept for how long ago this was, but that sounds good) I was heading to Zen Palate in a similar situation (minus the exhausted phone battery) and there was a reasonably hot guy eyeing me on the street. I was flattered but kept moving, as I am want to do. Goddess forbid I should let anyone know I am even remotely interested. I went inside and sat at the counter and when I glanced outside, there he was. Cute. He stood there and I goofy smiled and then looked away. Then down at my well-charged phone. I looked up again and he was still there! Then back at the phone. And….
I don’t know if I was expecting him to just stand out there in the cold all night waiting for me, but I was a little offended that he was gone. I know, right?
So last night I faced that same window and kept thinking that he might come back. What? The thing is, I didn’t really expect that he would–not even in the slightest, I mean…come on. But still, every now and then I would see a person hesitate by the window and my heart would kind of jump and I’d think, “There he is! That one guy that thought I was hot enough to stand outside of the window and cruise me even though I looked way more interested in my iPhone.” There was something really sad to me about seeing myself like this.
I need a Kindle.