Last thing I texted my sister before I took off on Sunday was, “I am 15 pounds overweight right now. I am going to walk and eat lettuce all week!”
I’ve eaten everything BUT lettuce.
My first two days in the city were spent inside, doing work. I know, I know. It’s okay – I expected it would be. I really like the work I’m doing, and doing it in this crazy city, next to a big open, sunny window, listening to car tires skip over the cobblestone streets outside – not a bad thing.
Last night about 6, I finished my last phone call, closed the laptop and headed outside. My one mission was to go into a restaurant and eat. Sounds easy, but eating alone is not comfortable for me, not easy at all.
For three miles I zigzagged up and down the streets of the Village. The longer I walked, the harder it got. All my mind could see was a big elephant in the restaurant – me among romantic couples sitting together, groups of friends laughing, enjoying each other’s company. Oh, I could squint and pretend to read Facebook and twitter on my phone. But in a dark restaurant, we all know that’s a joke. I can hardly read the damn menu at my age.
The alter ego, the slave driver, wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I had to pick a place, any place, and do it soon.
I stopped at a little Italian place called Ristorante Mappamondo. The sandwich board outside announced a special of “Black Tagliolini with Calamari in Spicy Tomato Sauce.” No idea what it was, but I have a history of being adventuresome with food. The most appealing part of this restaurant was that it was safe. Other than the couple consumed with their toddler, it was dead empty. Just me and them. A bit of a cowardly choice, but it was ok for my first step. At least I did it.
When the waitress came to the table I made a quick, nervous – and inane – comment about how lovely the weather was. She shrugged and answered, ‘Not for me! I miss my California weather.’ We promptly got into a conversation about how much she missed her hometown. She’d been in NY much longer than expected, she said, as she leaned halfway into the booth across from me. She went on to say that she was planning to move next year. We had the most delightful conversation about life in New York, California and how much family meant to us. I totally forgot I was the elephant.
I sat at the table in the window, enjoying a glass of Merlot, watching all the folks as they scurried by. I took her advice and tried the black tagliolini – loved every bite of it.
On my way home I stopped by a little market and treated myself to some flowers. I had conquered a fear, and by doing so, I had been rewarded with such a pleasurable evening. Why not celebrate with flowers!