Sunday, November 30, 2008

on dining out alone on a saturday night (tableaux from a solitary weekend, 1 of 3)

After a delectable Thanksgiving feast and a day-after meal of scrumptious leftovers, on Saturday I am in the mood for something lighter. So I walk down the street to get a salad. Normally, I would get it to go, head back home to eat alone, maybe in the company of Ed Chigliak and Chris in the Morning.

But there are no gifts from Netflix waiting for me at home, and although retreating to a lonely corner is exactly what I want to do, somehow I feel that, today, it is also exactly what I should not do. So tonight I decide to stay in the restaurant, to eat alone, in the detached company of strangers.

I do not know that it did any good for my psyche; merely being in the same room with other people does not necessarily lessen one's feeling of loneliness (in fact, it has been known to have the opposite effect). At least I saved some takeout packaging. And I got to pay plenty of attention to my salad, which happened to be delicious.

I am no stranger to dining alone, to being alone. But this particular experience is poignant. Suddenly I feel like I'm starting over, from scratch, and I don't even know what the ingredients are. Applewood smoked bacon, matchstick-cut apples, toasted sliced almonds: they make for a tasty salad, but, even as a team, their powers are limited. Comfort food is only food, after all. We humans, as reluctant to admit it as we sometimes are, we need each other.

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