Table for One

“Just me.”

My server could not hide her sadness for me as she removed the extra set of flatware from the table and handed me a single menu. An Italian waiter from the next table looked at me with his puppy dog eyes, “You . . . all alone?” He batted his eye lids then asked me if he could fill the empty seat across from me. I noted how my pregnant tummy was stuffed under the table. I chuckled and smiled politely. No one could ever guess how glad I was to be sitting at this table for one and letting someone else cook dinner and clean the dishes.

When my dinner plans were cancelled tonight, I thought to myself, “Why shouldn’t I still go?” I considered inviting some friends along, but jumped at the opportunity to be alone- how often does it happen that I’m alone without someplace I have to be?

Alone.

How often do I allow myself the chance to be disconnected from others, sit in my own company, and self-reflect? It seems our generation craves streaming feedback from social media and constant stimulation and noise from other people. To sit here, alone, allowing someone else to feed me so I can just focus on my own thoughts is such a breath of fresh air. Watching people connect and overhearing laughter is soothing to my soul. I see a child pour her juice all over the table while her parents are sorting out her older brother. They haven’t even noticed she is soaking wet. I sip my drink (ice water with lemon), raising it up to myself. I’m so thankful that isn’t my hassle tonight.

Please take your time with my food, I silently plead: I have thoughts that need processing, dreams that need developing and emotions that need feeling. Managing a household of five and coordinating an international move brings a lot of thoughts, dreams, and feelings- but few of which can actually be explored. I’ve got too much stuff to do.

So next month, Me, Myself & I have are having another dinner date. But boy, am I making these waiters feel uncomfortable. Several in turn, stop by to make small talk. I order from the adult menu, then ask for a children’s menu with some pencils and start writing a journal on the back and front of the menu then jotting notes on the chef hat and coloring sheets until they are almost completely covered with ideas and insights. I ate my food while it was still hot- nourishment to my body and nourishment to my soul.

(As I write this out, I realise how sad this sounds. I need a spa date or a weekend away. But until that can be a reality, I’ll just savor the moments of self-care that I can get.)

How do you create space to be alone and have time to process life when you are in a busy and crazy season?

Update: The risotto was so/so, but the company was great. Feeling my own feelings and processing my life made me start crying at the table, so I just sat there and let tears run down my cheeks. I can only imagine how the restaurant staff felt seeing the lone girl crying at the table with her crayons and ice water.  As I prepared to leave and face the kids, the house, and my little chaotic reality, my phone buzzed. Hubby and the kids are staying at his mum’s house tonight.

More tears streamed down my cheeks; my shoulders relaxed.

Thank you Lord.

Tonight I need space.

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