There was a time when I hated eating alone in a restaurant. Young and unattached, far from my family, it would seem as if everyone else had groups of friends and family surrounding them, and that everyone was staring at me if I dared dine alone.
All that has changed now. Now when we go out to eat, it's at the very least a table for two, but more often a table for six. With a high chair and a booster and four kids' menus and could-we-talk-to-the-manager-about-this-food-allergy-thing, please. About the only thing I do by myself these days is go to the ladies' room, and I'm often not even successful at that.
Last week, however, I had a meeting to attend. With adults, people from my former profession, none of whom have young children any more. And afterward, instead of the usually mess of errands to run in my few minutes alone, I chose to have a nice lunch. By myself.
I walked into the Olive Garden, and smilingly requested a table for one. I was completely at ease as my server inquired if I was having a nice day. I was relaxed as I perused the menu, then pulled out my book to read a few precious pages in peace.
A woman nearby had a baby who let out some shrieks, and I just smiled, thinking, "For once that's not me."
It seemed that the service was exceptional and the food tastier than usual, but I suppose that was because I could actually enjoy it without panicking about how long the kids would last before they got restless. The experience was mine to enjoy, quiet and serenity amid the hustle and bustle of the restaurant.
A table for one used to be one of my worst fears, but it's no longer a scary prospect. Now it's a pleasant change from the regular pace of life. I may try it again soon.