I didn’t notice her until she was about halfway through her meal.
At a table in a fairly typical American restaurant sat a woman, with two empty chairs across from her and one beside. On the table sat her meal, silverware, and a glass of red wine. From the angle I was seated at I can’t be sure, but I think she perhaps had a book as well. No cell phone though, no other distractions from her meal, her wine, and perhaps the words on the page.
When she left, only the wineglass remained, the last drop of crimson sitting stubbornly in the bottom.
She knew how to be attentive to the food and drink before her.
She knew how to not be bothered by those empty chairs around the table.
She knew how to be alone.
Had I been the one dining by myself that night, I would have glanced up every time the door opened, hoping it would not be someone I knew who would wonder why I was alone, or worse, pity me for it. My phone would likely have been on the table, so I could check it every few minutes in an attempt to look busy and important. The empty chairs around me would have seemed to hold an oppressiveness all their own, physical reminders of things missing from my life.
The truth is, most people are too busy with their own lives to notice someone sitting at a table without anyone else. I may have been the only person in the restaurant that night, besides the server, who even noticed the woman and thought anything of her.
There is nothing wrong with being alone. Instead, there is a type of goodness I have yet to fully understand, the type that is attentive to the food, the drink, and perhaps the words, and nothing else.
I have a lot to learn from her.
Til next time…
p.s. Have you ever gone out to eat by yourself?