I hosted three of my girls at my apartment on Saturday evening for a Very Special Dinner Party. Laura gave me the Dinner with Jackson Pollock Cookbook as a holiday gift (how COOL!?) and since his birthday was on January 28th, it was the perfect time for a test kitchen situation while simultaneously celebrating my favorite artist. I've always loved entertaining, even the prep work, from buying the groceries to planning the soundtrack to making the place cards. More than that, though, I live for those moments when my space is full of the people I love, enjoying an experience I've taken care and time to craft for them.
It was a lovely evening, and save for some work drama that had me popping natural anxiety pills like candy (Hyland's legit works), went off quite effortlessly indeed. And, well, dinner was bomb. Old-fashioned macaroni and cheese, roasted root vegetables with maple walnut glaze, a green salad and banana cream cake for dessert. We shared secrets and planned careers over red wine with Ryan Adams and Leon Bridges on the stereo. And couldn't stop laughing (someone get that kid a hotel deal already!). I cleaned up those dishes at midnight, mildly buzzed and happily exhausted.
Most evenings though-- I eat here, at this table, alone. Yes, I'm writing about being alone a lot but, write what you know! (and please, let me reiterate to those concerned: alone /=/ sad). I read The First Bad Man by Miranda July back in September when I'd just started living on my own since....ever, really. It's one of the strangest books I've ever read (high recommend!) and I find myself still thinking about it often. It's a snapshot of a short period in a single woman's life, how it gets unexpectedly turned upside by a seriously crazy cast of characters and ultimately shows her new ways to live life.
The part I often think about is her philosophy on eating by herself. Which is an efficient one but, uh, rather depressing. I can't remember all the details except that she really only had one plate, utensil set, bowl and cup. She'd use each at a meal, wash them all, and use the same set again for the next meal. No use dirtying (or buying!) multiples of the same. Sometimes, she'd even eat out of the pan she'd made her dinner in-- no use dirtying a plate at all!
I don't want to be her. And so, I turn on the music and light the candles and pour the wine and break out the magazines to sit down to a meal I've spent my time preparing in my tiny, tiny kitchen. Sure, sometimes it is a frozen pizza (but with a green side salad, promise!) but often I'll spend my evening preparing something nourishing and satisfying to both make and eat, if not incredibly complicated (I'm not, like, making creme brûlée over here).
Dining alone can be kind of a downer (if I find myself craving a dining companion, that's when I get on the horn and meet Carey at Kuba Kuba for a Cuban sandwich (who, me!? what?? NO.) or finagle Kristen over to Graffiato for a calamari pizza) but it can also incredibly meditative. That horrid phrase "me time" (I mean, honestly) does have some wisdom to it and I believe in investing time and attention in creating a vibe, mood and atmosphere for yourself, the same you would a partner or group of friends. Plus, I do totally indulge myself, giving into most of my cravings, making tacos when I feel like it and a big pot of soup when the mood strikes. My dark chocolate tank is never at empty nor my wine supply dangerously low.
This time in my life won't be forever (which...isn't that always the case? but you know what I mean) and I know I'll look back on it someday nostalgically (as I do with everything) so I'm trying to savor it and make it intentional even when dining alone (especially when!) feels particularly alone. Now, time for dinner. Pizza, anyone?