I loved my vacation in Whistler—ten days in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I didn’t mind travelling alone, in fact, the drive started filling my weary soul as I watched
the sunlight dance on Howe Sound. As the water moved and churned to my left, the sturdy granite mountain began rising to my right, the road having been chiseled from the mighty rock that once kept all visitors out.
Although I’d traveled that road for twenty years, it felt different without the conversation of a partner, kid or said kid’s many friends. Those days were gone. Now, it was my time and driving alone painted an entirely different picture than the one I’d merely glanced upon in years past.
Once I arrived, I enjoyed almost every minute of my time with one, almost daily, exception. When it was time for dinner, I had my choice of many fun and/or fancy restaurants, but it took courage every night to walk up to the hostess and ask for a “Table for one.”
The world seems to be built for couples—a child or two may be added—but, subtracting down to a “Table for one” brings judgement. Is it a crime to be single? I couldn’t always tell if the hostess felt sorry for me or sorry that she had to provide a big table for one
person. One restaurant, a casual establishment, told me I had to sit at the counter or go into the bar and take my chances in there. She wouldn’t offer me an outside table that could be better filled with a couple. I don’t think I’ll go to that restaurant again.
On the other hand, one of the nicer restaurants in the village, Earls, was always happy to give me the next available table, even as couples and families waited. My server, Becky, took good care of me and didn’t rush me, even asking me about my writing (I
always carry a notebook when dining alone) and offering her email so she could be included in my blog shout outs. But, I still felt the eyes of the couples and families on me. Maybe it was my own paranoia, but it felt real.
One other restaurant always found a table for me, but my experience at Earls brought me back one more time. The wait for an outdoor table on that beautiful evening was fairly long and when I was led to my table, I saw that it could have easily seated four. I immediately felt guilty for cheating four people out of this great table. My server this time (I wish I had gotten her name) told me I should just enjoy. She confessed that she loved going out alone and basically told me to screw all the haters (not in those words) and just enjoy.
And, that night I did. I sat at that huge table and ignored the looks. Were they staring because they felt sorry for an old lady eating alone, or were they envious that they didn’t have the guts to go out without a partner? I realized that evening that it didn’t matter what they were thinking. I needed to own the experience and over the ten days, I slowly became more comfortable eating alone.
That being said, I think humans were meant to form couples. We need someone to share our good times—and our bad. It’s nice to know we are capable of living and even thriving alone, but I know I want more. As I looked around, I saw many couples in those restaurants and it was clear than some had ‘settled’ for less than they really wanted. Were they so afraid of eating alone that they couldn’t wait for the right person? Then I saw some who had obviously held out for their soulmate, holding hands, laughing and enjoying their meal (they didn’t notice me). Until I meet that perfect guy—perfect for me, anyway—I will continue to enjoy my “Table for one”. But, one of these days I look forward to walking up to my friends at Earls and asking for a “Table for two”.