Going on a a date with myself

Cynthia Bord

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It started as a way to do activities that I had always wanted to do but never did because no one around me wanted to do it too. And because schedules with my friends don’t always match up.

If I want to go for Chicken Over Rice at the Halal Cart after work and eat in the park nearby, I could.

So I did. That night in the dimly lit park was much chillier than I had expected it to be. Although it was nice to have some time to myself, it would’ve been a much more enjoyable experience with friends. Someone in my friend group would’ve suggested we go somewhere warmer — it was November, after all. My boyfriend would’ve given me his jacket.

But I stayed in the park and ate the steamy takeaway box on the cold stone bench, partly because I could, but mostly because no one was there to pull me away.

If I wanted to spend a few hours at the local bookstore, I could do that too. Do what I rarely had the time to in my daily life, with things that people in my life didn’t prefer. It was deeply satisfying to read a long story with ebbs and flows and completely be in my own mind about it. Reading something that drew the reader in and kept them guessing about where it was going. Tinker at the mind and tug at the heartstrings.

At that bookstore, I sat and read for 3 hours after work one day, with a latte in one hand and a romantic-comedy genre of fiction in the other. Sat lost in a book about a young girl with a congenital lung disease who fell in love with a boy with the same bad lungs, laughing to myself, in a room filled with strangers all lost in their pick of worlds.

With my heart lightly treading across the bittersweet narrative, I wish I had someone to turn to and ponder in the wonder that was that great story.

If I wanted to step into a restaurant for a cheap, good glass of wine and a hearty plate of pasta, I could. Bask on the experience of noticing all the new details I wouldn’t see if I was too caught up in what the other person was thinking.

The waiter recommends a Saint Cha-da something-or-other red wine to pair with the Vodka Penne in a nuevo-Italian American accent. The wine pairs perfectly. I text my boyfriend the pronunciation of the wine name so I can remember it for later.

A crackling fire played on repeat on the flat-screen TV while I trapezed between the wine, the pasta, and the bread dipped in olive oil.

In the middle of the of the dimly lit restaurant, I realized it was perfect for a romantic after-hours date with a lover. But I was perfectly fine all by myself. My eyes stayed on peculiar objects around the dining room that didn’t seem to fit into the mid-century romantic castle theme — a dingy animal statue that resembled a bat here, a gap that let light in through the ceiling there.

So beautiful, but the experience was so meant to be shared.

My boyfriend doesn’t prefer a quiet, camaraderie-ous restaurant with dark, romantic aesthetics when we eat out. He prefers local places that you find, rather than stumble upon. My friends prefer brunch during the day, and pictures of the beautiful and delicious egg on toast on Instagram stories to prove it. My family caters to family-friendly establishments and family-style restaurants.

There was nothing wrong with that, just traditions that belonged to every social circle. But when I spend time alone, with the singular goal of building a relationship with myself — magic happens. What I want becomes so much clearer and easier to put into words because it is the only one there. No competing ideas, no competing desires. Just mine. The experience prioritizes my needs and clarifies my wider goals in other circles of my life without making it selfish or unthinking of others.

But you see, I didn’t even realize this until I started to plan out time alone. Some real-time, by myself. Doing what I want to do, eating what I want to eat. Without compromise, calculations, without taking into account what the other person felt or wanted. Just what I feel and want. But with that comes a lack of different suggestions and perspectives. It takes away from what makes relationships so important and transforms moments into something more. Special.

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writer on love, tech, and politics, lover of coffee and petter of dogs

New York, NY
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