i'm a social person. i like hanging out with people. sharing experiences. having company. but i’ve also come to the point where i don't want my lack of company to hinder me from doing something i really want to do. like visiting a festival or a restaurant or a museum exhibit or any other interesting place. it seems silly to wait around for others to do certain things that i really want to do. and i’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the experience of doing things on my own can sometimes turn out much better than one that's influenced by someone else and their preferences.
yesterday i had one of these moments. i had been craving diner food for most of the weekend and made a decision to visit ihop after church. my first intention was to find company, but when that wasn’t working out, i figured there was no reason why i couldn’t go to ihop alone.
sundays at ihop are always pretty crowded, and yesterday was no different. i made my way through the sea of people waiting for tables and approached the hostess with the waiting list.
i asked her how long the wait would be for one person. she told me less than 15 minutes, which i knew wouldn’t be bad, given that i had a book to read as i waited.
she wrote down my name and scratched a “1” in the box next to it.
as i turned to find a seat, a small part of me wished i could have been seated immediately, not to get to my food faster, but to avoid being the lonely-girl-sitting-in-ihop-by-herself-reading-a-book. amongst the families with restless kids and groups of friends, i wasn’t really blending in.
not long after my name was called, and i made my way to my table, my dad called. i told him i was in ihop, and he asked who i was there with.
he laughed and said, “i hear you!”
i proceeded to make him laugh some more by reenacting the waiting process. how because of the long list of groups, the names of the different parties were projected over the intercom…
“monica, party of six – monica, party of six.”
“smith, party of four – smith, party of four.”
“janet, party of five – janet, party of five.”
“jessica, party of one…jessica, party of one.”
we laughed some more about my love for food and my inheritance of his metabolism. i ordered. i read more of my book. i ate. i talked to a finicky gentleman in his 60’s who was sitting next to me (another “party of one”).
with a full stomach and a satiated appetite, i went up front and paid my bill. and as i turned from the counter and made my way to the door, the woman on the intercom called…
“jackson, party of two … jackson, party of two.”
and i thought about that. how that was the call i should have been responding to. not the one i responded to 40 minutes earlier. or maybe it's not "should have" but "would have." we would have woken up together. we would have gone to church. we would have gone to eat. we would have talked and laughed. there's more "would haves" than i care to count.
and i had to question if my theory about doing things by myself was still holding true. i questioned which was better -- "jessica, party of one" or "jackson, party of two"?
and the answer is neither. both are what they were and are. one might be more desirable, but it's also not possible. another might be more uncomfortable, but it's also my reality. what's been given to me. what i can make the best of.
so i'll just have to party of one.