“Is anyone joining you this evening?” I hear the host ask the guest who has just approached the podium.
“No, table for one. Just me,” he tells her.
Book in hand, the guest sits at the deuce as the host clears away the extra place setting.
He quickly opens his book, and he reads. It must be an interesting book, because he doesn’t look up from it, except to glance at the menu and give his order to the server. He eats when his food is served. And then he reads some more.
Is he alone or lonely?
It is prime happy-hour time as I watch the cute girl walk down an avenue lined with bars and clubs. She has a slim book in her hand; she has chosen not to stash it in her over-sized bag, which could clearly accommodate it. She carries it in plain sight, and rather than partake of cheap, watered-down mojitos or $2 draft beer, she ducks into a Starbucks on the corner and perches at the counter that overlooks the sidewalk. She opens her book, glances at it, then puts it face down on the counter and stares out the window, the printed words now seemingly uninteresting.
Is she alone or lonely?
A young man and woman sit side by side on a crowded bus, each wearing headphones that allow them to be very much apart from one another, even as their elbows touch and their shoulders brush against each other. I watch him glance at her, then look back at his newspaper. I watch as she watches him for just a moment, until he looks up at her and sees her watching him, and they both look away and retreat to their far-away worlds.
How many more mornings will they be alone?
I will soon be the guest at a table for one, the single girl with the book, the solo bus traveler. It is a stage of life I never imagined, but I have decided it is best for me, absolutely necessary for me, for now. I am not happy about it. I am, instead, quite shaken and saddened by it. But it is my decision–all mine–and my self-determined course of action. No villains here, just life.
Will I be alone or lonely? I have no clue. My goal is to work, find some sort of personal equilibrium, and work some more. Then I hope to know some answers.
Until then, to those who have expressed concern via email, know that I am okay as okay goes, and that I have a great new job miles and miles and miles away from D.C. It just might be the job that combines all the good things I’ve experienced in the industry that have led me to this place. I am landing in a first-rate restaurant that is managed by the best of the best, and that alone makes it a road worth traveling. Personal issues aside, I am one lucky Gal. That I do know.
More stories to come, of course. But for the next few weeks, enjoy some very fine writing by guest posters in between stories of my own.
Oh yeah, and did I mention I will soon be living at the beach?