On Eating Alone
How often do you eat alone in public?
I'm always interested in hearing how differently people respond to this question. Some friends will say, "Oh, all the time." A majority seem to say, "I don't like eating alone. I could never do that."
I used to have no problem eating alone. It was something I did once in awhile when I felt like it. A short wait time, efficient service, focusing on the food, having time to think... these are several things that I found enjoyable about eating alone.
Ironically, after moving to New York, I found myself eating alone less often than before. This has to do with the fact that I've managed to make what psychologist Meg Jay calls "an urban tribe" in her book The Defining Decade:
"...the makeshift family that has come to the fore as twenty-somethings spend more years on their own. The urban tribe gives us rides to the airport and we vent about bad dates and breakups over burritos and beer [...]a huddle together with like-minded peers"
There's a specific sentence that stands out in Meg's writing when it comes to the urban tribe — "While the urban tribe helps us survive, it may not help us thrive."
Looking back, I don't think I've ever really had a an urban tribe. My group of Rachels, Monicas, Chandlers, Joeys, and Phoebes. Oh, and there was Ross.
These days, I definitely would say I've developed a tight knit group of friends that eat with and hangout with very often. It got to a point where I started avoiding eating alone. I was always looking for someone to eat with when going out in public. I didn't notice this though until one night where I wanted to eat ramen at a local restaurant my boyfriend and I go to frequently. He was still working and my close friends were all out and busy too.
I found myself thinking about all sorts of ways I could avoid eating alone at the restaurant? Should I deliver? Do they do takeout? Before I knew it, I had already arrived in front of the restaurant before I could come to a conclusion.
And then it dawned on me, "Oh my god, why don't I just eat alone. Especially at a Japanese restaurant where eating alone is no big deal."