January 13, 2008

Alone, but not lonely: Cherishing the silence

During the last deployment I had met many of military spouses who hated doing stuff alone. They were always looking for friends to join them from grocery shopping to lunches. I admit, even I had decided not to do some things when I was faced with going alone, but this deployment, that's all changed.

I'm learning to embrace this new freedom. Yesterday, on my way to go get groceries, I was really in the mood for some Mexican food. Since George left I haven't been out to eat, with the exception of when I was in Houston and lunch last week with a co-worker when we were brainstorming for a Brigade meeting. I decided that I would call for take-out when I finished shopping, but as I drove closer into town, the more Iwanted it. "Why should I have t owait until I'm finished, call for take-out, get it home and wait while I put away the perishables. I'm going now!'

Once decided I was like a kid making a decision at a candy store, I was so excited. Now, this is not my first time eating out alone. In fact, I do it often when I'm in Houston, but there is "feels" more acceptable. However, whether in a small town like here or in a metropolis like Houst, there are a few things I have learned to garner myself the best service.

First of all, dress the part. Hosting staff and service staff will treat you according to how you portray yourself. If you dress in sweat pants and T-shirts, you'll be put in the back and forgotten, because that is the image you portray. That does not mean however, that you have to dress to the nines like Carmela Soprano. I tend to wear a cute top, with jeans and ballet flats or low heels. It also gives you a sense of feeling more confident, which you will portray.

Now another thing that I have learned it to bring something with you to read. This is also the time to treat yourself to your favorite magazine or catch up on a book you've been trying to finish. I had checked the mail before I left and found an issue of Victoria (one of my favs) waiting for me and had considered stopping by a knick-knack store here called The Ivy Cottage, to get a copy of Tea Time, but they were closed. This will give you something to do while waiting for your food and after if you'd like to just sit and enjoy the moment of "you" before pickin up the kids, returning home to clean house, or whatever "life" activity awaits. I would say though, that you're reading material will portray to the waitstaff how to serve you. the "heavier" the reading material the less they will intrude, so you can't bring "War and Peace" then complain to management that they only refilled your glass once. My favorite is the sit by a window so I can people watch occasionally while reading and not disturb my neighbors with stares. This also gives the illusion that you are eating alone as your choice, not because no one wants to be your friend. I had a friend who would do this once a month and pay her bills. A good treat when you have to face this adult chore, but be mindful that you don't want to spread out all of your paperwork and risk spills or identity theft. She has a cute little bill keeper that she puts the envelopes and paystub after she files the actual bill. It's organized and quick.

When eating alone don't be afraid to ask for different seating if you are put in a location that you feel is unfavorable. There is a quaint Mexican restaurant in Houston that I love to sit by the window that faces a small garden, in another restaurant I love to sit with a view of the kitchen because I love to watch them make the Italian dishes. You just have to be mindful not to ask for a table that seats 8 when you are alone. Respect them, and they will respect you.

Lastly, enjoy yourself. Try something new. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the food and atmosphere. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Enjoy the freedom of being able to do what you want ... get dessert!

All in all, I'm learning to enjoy spending time with me. I'm a cool chick, I have fun with myself. SOmetimes I use this time to write, other times I make lists of things I'd like to do and set project goals for my home, school, or crafts. Sometimes I even think about work! Feeling sorry for yourself will only make things worse. Take the time to dosomething for you. You deserve it more than anyone else!

Until our next cup of tea,

6 Tea Party Guest:

lime said...

sounds like you've got a great attitude about it and good tips as well.

ssshhh, don't tell, sometimes i take myself out to lunch all by myself just for the peace and quiet and so i can go where I want not where everyone else wants.

stitcherw said...

Yup, attitude is everything. Also, there is a subtle art to eating out by yourself and enjoying it. Planning ahead and thinking of the different things you mention go a long ways to increasing your enjoyment of the meal.

Sheila said...

I'm glad you are giving yourself treats..!
I like some time to myself too, and I think it's good for our mental health.
We always share desert when we eat out, if I'm alone, I eat it all myself...
it would be a shame to waste

Alice said...

You are a cool chick, I agree! Stop by my blog to pick up an award I've tagged you with. It's called You Make My Day and you do!

smilnsigh said...

Not only are you a cool chick, you are a smart one too. I'm so glad you did this, and that you are finding this attitude. Hooray for you!


see you there! said...

I'm delighted to hear that you are finding the joyful bits about being alone. I frequently take myself off somewhere just for the pleasure of thinking of me first, my wants, my wishes. When we are with those we love we tend to cater to their wishes, or at least compromise (and we should).

You posted some good hints for those who might be uncomfortable or new at dining out alone.