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  • Writer's picturemamaspice

premiere pause

I've thought about this writing prompt for a while:

Take yourself to dinner. Order a drink. Order one item off the menu. Write one thing about the restaurant. Write one thing about yourself. Take yourself to dinner, and get to know you.


I picked the restaurant I'd write about first on the same day I thought of this writing prompt - Blupoint Oyster Bar. Months later, I hyped myself up with music and asked the host for a seat at the bar. There's always those few minutes when the waiter or bartender assumes you're waiting on someone before they approach you. When they did, I caught myself saying "Can you make me something spicy?" without looking at the drink menu.

I fiddled with my notepad and phone. I nervously shook my leg. I hadn't really thought about how I would spend my time until I was there. When you dine by yourself, you don't have anyone else filling in the awkward silences. I thought, "oh, I could eavesdrop," but the couple next to me didn't have anything interesting. I looked up "what is a food critic?" on my phone and wound up reading an Eater article about how the pandemic changed food reviews.

Is that what I wanted to do? Pretend to be a food writer? No - too pretentious, even for me. The article made me realize that I did not understand the complexities of the food industry. As someone who works in tech, I often glamorize automation but can you commodify and automate community? I'm so grateful for local restaurants near me that have forged many of my friendships today.

I ordered the gambas al ajilo, and dipped my bread into this spicy sauce for the rest of the night. My toddler and I have the same reaction to yummy food; we shimmy our shoulders slightly and smile.

A few minutes later, a young woman asked if the seat next to me was taken. We ended up talking, and when she asked what I was doing that night I said, "I have a technical job, and I'm busy being a mum outside of that. I used to be a writing major in college. I actually thought I'd be a war journalist. I miss being creative so I'm taking myself to dinner and writing about food. This is my first night." She was a student, and also worked at the restaurant occasionally. I learned a few things about the restaurant, who the owner was, and learned the first names of some of the other staff. We exchanged numbers at the end of the night, and I realized that going out to dinner alone is actually fun once I got past the initial awkwardness.

I'm fast paced, impulsive, and perpetually on the move (if not physically then in my head). My word for 2022 is pause. I've moved through life so quickly in the past that I often overtake my own feelings. Then, I look back, miles ahead of what happened, and slowly process pain. I wish I experienced and processed things at the same speed.

I've thought of many ways to process 2021 but this makes the most sense to me. Food and writing have the same power over me - they're healing, transformative, and comforting. I feel like I've lost myself in the last decade that taking myself out to dinner is both an act of grace and treat. What have I learned about myself tonight?

It may take me 6 months to respond to a prompt but this first pause was a good way to be kind to myself and rest.

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