Monday, April 15, 2013

On Solo Dining

Lalibela, Ethiopia

I know there was a time long, long ago that I felt trepidation about dining out solo, but it's been so long I don't recall the negative feeling.

Once I began solo dining, always with a book or newspaper at hand, I loved eating in restaurants alone. For an introvert like me, it's perfect - I get to enjoy perfect solitude while in the ambient company of people, amidst the noises of activity and social conversation, but not of it.

Trabzon Restaurant, Istanbul

But I didn't get how someone could dine alone without anything to read. (Or texting or listening to music or using any external diversions whatsoever.) When I saw such a person, usually a man, I'd wonder what he was thinking while he was eating. It wasn't a matter of him just looking at his plate and shoveling the food in. No, the typical solo-diner-without-something-to-read often sat quietly while eating, looking out into space.  

I just didn't get the attraction of this.

Tlaxcala, Mexico

Until. I think I noticed it in Georgia, maybe as early as Ethiopia. I'd go to a restaurant and have a book with me, and then realize I wasn't reading it. I was just .... being there. Just eating. Just drinking. Just looking out into the distance. And it was OK. Sometimes when I caught myself, I'd pick up the book, and then let it go again. ... just eating, just drinking ...

And now, if someone were to ask me, what are you thinking about when you dine alone and you're not engaged in a book or newspaper or music or texting or whatever, the answer would have to be: I don't know, nothing really

Keshalo, Georgia

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