Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sitting Alone and Sipping

Matcha Latte at Behind the Museum Cafe

I'm sitting alone, sipping this matcha latte, and I love the being aloneness.  Many people do this nowadays, alone but not really alone with the laptop and the smart phone and Facebook and Twitter.  Are we ever really alone anymore?

I've long been comfortable dining alone.  Work travels trained me to this and once I got my feet under me as a grown up (somewhere in my late 20's), I seldom felt awkward.  My comfort in solo dining matured from something I tolerated to something I happily anticipated. 

Coffee shops know how to handle the lone sipper, but many restaurants still do not.  In fact, one of my top criteria for evaluating a restaurant is based upon how well it treats me as a solo diner.  Here's an example of excellent service, and it happened to be at a tea room (coincidentally).  Many years ago, I visited the St. James Tea Room (as I did often), and this day I was by myself.  I wanted to treat myself and I wanted to be alone.  Mary Alice, the owner, seated me.  When realizing I would be a party of one, she smiled broadly and said  - and I still remember it -  "Oh, I love to have tea alone!  It's so nice to sit and read or think without being interrupted.  I hope you enjoy this time."  Her welcoming attitude put me at ease as she showed me to a nice table.  By contrast, at other restaurants, I've been sequestered to the two-top crammed into a back corner. 

When I'm dining alone, I feel powerful.  Don't misinterpret me - I love dining with other people, as well, but that is for a social purpose.  Alone, I am taking myself on a date.  I practice being confident in the world (rather than thinking people are looking at me/feeling sorry for me because I'm alone/etc./etc./etc.).  I take in the environment.  I write or read - or not.  I listen to myself and that is the most important part.

Do you enjoy dining alone?  I encourage you to give it a try.  Take yourself on a date to a restaurant you've always wanted to try.  Table for one.

12 comments:

Linda J. said...

This is a beautiful post! Thanks for the encouragement. I often feel a bit like the odd man out when I dine alone.

La Tea Dah said...

Very good post --- I can handle tea rooms alone quite well --- and luncheon spots --- but more formal meal times are not something I've really "mastered" yet.

Yet another way to practice personal growth...

Alex Zorach said...

Being content with being alone, especially at meal times, is something I struggle with a lot. I am a very social animal, and I love eating with people, and generally don't get to do nearly as much of it as I'd like.

I do not feel like Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, and the like, really help me to be more connected to people in a deeper, spiritual sense. To this I find face-to-face contact indispensible.

I do think though that there's a huge improvement when I sit down and focus on enjoying my meal (and my tea) instead of trying frantically to communicate with others via various pieces of electronic technology. The technology can be very distracting but it doesn't deliver the sort of quality connection that I crave most, so I often find, like you, that I enjoy things more when I focus on being content being alone.

Marilyn said...

I do enjoy dining alone at times, so enjoyed reading your feelings on it. BTW, there is a St.Jame Tearoom in Victoria, BC too. As I read your post I was reminded of the book The Artist Way, which encourages artist dates. This would be a very special way of having an artist date.

Get Natured said...

The hardest thing for me to adjust to when I left the corporate world to be home with my boys was the feeling of never being alone. It has been 3 1/2 years and I am still struggling with this at times. Any time that I do get to spend completely alone (dining or otherwise) is all the more delicious for it. :-)

Karen said...

Lovely post, Steph. You know, even though I'm single, I've never gone out to a restaurant to dine alone. It's always with my family or friends. Of course, I dine alone at home all the time but I never thought of taking myself out on a date, as it were. I think that I'd like to try that experience. Thanks for the encouragement and the inspiration. :)

Pearl's Tea said...

Yes, I love dining alone. It is quiet, I can watch people, enjoy my food and my thoughts without interruption, and I often pull out a notebook because I feel creative juices flowing. But I'm not crazy about eating alone at home- there I feel lonely, even though I do it most nights.

Denise at Uniquely Tea said...

This is a very encouraging post, Stephanie. I am a bit like Linda J., not quite comfortable with dining alone.

Angela McRae said...

Oh wow, I love dining alone, have gone to tea alone before, and like you I'm happily married but entirely comfortable when it's just me. What a luxury! Sometimes, when I have writerly things on the brain, I go somewhere by myself to dine and eavesdrop on the dialogue around me and write it down to get a clear "voice" for my characters! (No names, of course, and I only do this out of town so there's no chance I'll know the people!)

Steph said...

Angela - What a good idea!

GardenofDaisies said...

I admit that this is not something I am comfortable with . I've had to do it on occasion when traveling, but would never choose to, given the choice. I think we have been hardwired to think that meals are social times. Back in my college days, if I didn't have one of the girls from the hall to eat with, I would skip the meal. Just couldn't bring myself to go to the dining hall alone.

The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook said...

Hi Steph,

I love your post! I really enjoy dining alone, especially when I'm traveling on business. The simplicity of personal dining is so relaxing. Time stands still because there are no rules on when, where or what to eat. It's definitely a way to re-charge and collect your thoughts.

Thanks for sharing,

Darlene