The first stop was the library in town to drop off a book and reserve space for my monthly writing group’s meetings. (Annoyingly, I learned we weren’t supposed to be able to reserve the space since there are fewer than ten in the group. Hello. We’ve been meeting there for more than a year and no one mentioned it before. I promised to start recruiting ASAP.)
The second was a friend’s house to check out a sample of upholstery fabric she’d kindly left between her screen and back doors. Nope – too pink. I carefully re-created the door sandwich and went on my way.
Third, the survival center, the depository of all my changes in clothing size, shopping regrets, and the overflow from too much consumerism. This time I left minus one outdoor chaise pad that’s 1) ugly, 2) hot to sit on, 3) too thin for our old hard metal lounger.
Finally to Randall’s, a place that probably started years ago as a lean-to with local corn but has evolved into almost destination shopping with plants, vegetables, sandwiches, wine, and terrific ice cream.
It was well past my lunch time so it was a good thing I was there instead of the grocery store. I managed to avoid all the tempting breads and pastries and instead filled the back of my car with kale, peaches, and brand-new peas.
Until I remembered that there was nothing interesting at home for lunch and home was so very far away – at least ten minutes – and it was only logical that all those calories in a scoop of ice cream wouldn’t count if that was the sum total my lunch.
Soon I was seated in the shade at a picnic table where I could people-watch the parking lot, feel the cool breeze and enjoy my decadent chocolate ice cream with caramel swirls, studded with tiny chocolate cups filled with yet more caramel.
I sat there by myself and thought about how unusual it was for me to do something like this.
I shop alone, run errands alone, and usually go walking alone – in fact I prefer it. But I almost never sit at a table at a restaurant and consume something alone.
Does this discomfort of eating alone in public arrive with puberty, when girls begin to travel everywhere in giggling packs? Are group visits to the ladies’ room some other version of this? What are we afraid of? That we’ll look like the person no one will sit with in the high school cafeteria?
I enjoyed my small moment of ice-cream Zen, a tiny scavenging bird chirping from the next table, the family with the puppy in back of me, the shoppers in the parking lot passing before me with their plants and vegetables.
I should do this more often, although maybe in some other less-caloric form.