I think I found the one thing I miss the most

Last night my parents took E and Baby Evan and I out to dinner at our favorite small local place Chili’s. Go ahead, laugh at me for thinking it’s one of the best restaurants ever but you KNOW IT’S TRUE. Who doesn’t want a giant pile of fried onion straws and a huge burger and a white chocolate blondie with a giant margarita blackberry iced tea to wash it down after a long day of screaming, screechy, smacking baby watching?

Anyways, after the third or fourth time Baby Evan threw something on the floor I decided I needed a moment to myself and ran to hide in the bathroom. As I slunk past all the people having their dinners ruined by That Family who insist on bringing their child to dinner even though he keeps screaming like his hair is on fire aka US I noticed a lady sitting in one of the back booths. She was probably upper middle aged and kind of frumpy and what I would definitely call the stereotype of the crazy cat lady eating dinner by herself in a busy restaurant. And I was INSANELY JEALOUS.

When I was in college, I used to spend a lot of time alone. Not is a “woe is me I am so sad and angsty” way. I just liked getting to make all my own decisions without worrying what someone else thought or wanted or felt like doing that day. Between classes and work and the 2+ hours I spent at the gym 6 days a week (I really liked my gym) by the time dinner came along I couldn’t bear calling around and doing the socially required “Do you want to get dinner? I know we had pasta last night but I’m really in the mood for Italian again but if you’re not we can go for BBQ but if that one place is too expensive there’s that other place and if we get a cab we don’t have to park because that part of town is busy on Fridays but I don’t mind driving either” dance just to eat something. (And don’t ask why I didn’t ever make my own food – I was 21 and employed and lived in a city with some of the very best restaurants in the world.)

So I started going to restaurants alone. And I LOVED it. I carried a book in my purse and would get the smallest table by a window and half-read half-people watch while I enjoyed my sandwich or Thai food or clam chowder or whatever. The book kept most of the overly-friendly-let-me-rescue-you-from-being-lonely-dudes away and I got to know the staff at a few of my favorite places and they learned letting me sit quietly meant a nice tip to make up for hogging their table. Not only did I get to enjoy my book and my food, I always felt incredibly grown up and worldly and brave for eating alone and not caring if anyone thought I was being stood up or didn’t have any friends or smelled really bad and couldn’t get anyone to sit with me.

I cannot remember the last time I got to eat alone. I don’t even get to eat alone in my own house anymore – there’s always a tiny person yanking on my pants or shoving his hands in my bowl or SCREAMING at me. (Seriously, the screaming is getting way out of hand around here.) As much as I honestly love bringing the baby with me most of the time – grocery shopping is a fun way to show him shapes and colors and new things and we both enjoy it – every once in a while it would be super awesome to…not.

I think the next time I need to go bask in the joy that is Target run very important errands down by the mall I’m going to take a book and enjoy some Panera. ALONE.

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8 Responses to “I think I found the one thing I miss the most”

  1. jill says:

    yes! all of this!

    i love eating by myself with a magazine or book! when i first started the job i had before i had corbin i went to a nearby cafe for lunch and the dorkiest girl at my job [no seriously i wanted to sign her up for what not to wear] and her husband were there and she came over and just about insisted that “the new girl” come eat with her and the hubs and i was like, “no really. i LIKE eating by myself leave me the heck alone lady”

    i hope you get to enjoy some babyless [well besides sandy] target shopping and panera soon!

  2. Merin says:

    Eating alone…what a dream. In grad school there was a theater on campus that showed fairly recent movies for like, a dollar, and I would go alone all the time. I loved it (even though I had a boyfriend-it was a nice break from that guy too!). I can’t even stand at the counter and shove chicken salad from the container down my throat now without Cora forcing her way on between my legs and the cabinet. It makes me crazy.

  3. Cole says:

    Mommy totally ditched Daddy and me one night last week to go to dinner by herself!

  4. Emmie Bee says:

    Gahhh. Now?? I WANT CHILI’S! I LOVE LOVE LOVE times a million their chicken enchilada soup lunch deal. Bottomless soup & salad? Yes please! PS: I’ve never eaten alone. I need to add that to my list of things to do.

  5. brigidkeely says:

    Sometimes Nesko comes home from work and I’m all “OH HEY GUESS WHAT NEED SOMETHING FROM THE STORE BRB” and I walk to our corner store and just… walk around it for awhile. Then I grab some chicken breasts or carrots or something and come home. My main impetus for getting a driving license is so I can “offer” to “run errands” when he gets home from work. You know. By myself. Oooh, walking around Target! ALONE TIME.

  6. Susan says:

    I love doing things on my own – running to the coffee house, getting a cup and sitting outside at a table and just . . . breathing! Or the library in the winter – sitting in their comfy chairs reading all the gossip magazines. Next weekend I’m going camping by myself for three nights. A little scary for me, but a challenge I want to conquer. And my kids are old – like 23 and 18 – and yet I still crave my alone time.

  7. Suzanne says:

    I have a little one (6 months old) and I totally get this as well. I had to explain to my husband that his nice gestures of trying to do all the shopping, pick up food we order, and run small errands for me so I can just stay home with C and relax was backfiring. I relish those times I have alone because it happens so rarely. Plus, I always find I come home refreshed and excited to see my family when I have had some “me” time.

  8. MKP says:

    This is definitely something I learned to love during college, especially as I moved from my hard drinking days into my “let’s fill that void with crafts” time. And once I moved to the city, forget it – back when I had non-poverty-stipend income I treated myself to dinner and a movie, or dinner and a show, or dinner and dessert and a long walk, or lunch and a color me mine session every way-too-often or so.

    As your kids get older, I hear those will reappear every so often :)

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