A Lonely Truth
Considering this is a time to reflect on the things we are thankful for, I thought I would say a long overdue thank you to someone who inspired me on my journey. Although I have had good relationships with teachers and professors throughout the years, I unfortunately have not had any that have stood the test of time. But that does not mean that have not left a mark on me.
Dr. Orlando, my English teacher from my first semester of college was one of these people. She made me believe in the art of storytelling and reflection. Although I have not seen or spoken with Dr. Orlando since walking out of her final class prior to the holidays of 2010, her lessons have certainly stuck with me. Thank you Dr. Orlando.
p.s. I did not eat alone yesterday!
10 September 2010
A Lonely Truth
I believe in eating alone.
I have always looked strangely at those people who you see every so often enjoying a nice meal out by themselves. I would think to myself, what has to happen in your life that you find yourself at a bar and grille late at night with no one to share stories with, and no one to laugh with? All you have is the company of an empty seat and maybe a lengthy novel. It was not until my first week of college that my views on this matter changed. I suddenly realized that for many of these people eating alone is a choice, it is not because they lack acquaintances who would enjoy their company.
It was only my third day of classes in what at the time was a foreign world to me. I was just getting settled at college and I had just got out of a exhausting six a.m. practice for the lacrosse team. I figured instead of waiting for my fatigued roommates, who also play lacrosse, to regain enough energy to make the deceivingly long walk to the cafeteria, I instead would run over alone and grab some food to go. I climbed up the grueling stairs to the lunchroom, which I plan to donate money after college with my profitable job that I may or may not get in order to install escalators. I turned the corner into the lunchroom and was amazed at the amount of people eating alone. The cafeteria looked like a chessboard half way through a back and forth match. Scattered students filled their own grids throughout the lunchroom. To my disbelief the faces I saw did not look lonely or sad but they looked peaceful and relaxed.
There were people eating with others but the majority of the students sat unaccompanied. Many finished up some last minute homework, many read the school paper, and many sat and pondered what the next days would bring. It seemed to me that bulk of the people were not eating alone because they had to be but because they enjoyed the privacy and peacefulness that many times a college campus cannot offer. So I did it, something I didn’t think I would ever do, I grabbed a big plate of food and sat down, all alone. I felt awkward, I even pulled my cell phone out as if I was at a middle school dance and pretended to be texting someone. I looked around, no one was looking at me, and no one was judging me. I don’t know why I had never eaten alone; I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t comfortable enough with myself, if I was worried what people would think of me but for a minute none of that mattered. I finally began to feel that peacefulness. I had not had isolation like this since I left home. I felt as I did the first time I drove alone after getting my license but the horns in the distance, and the sound of my not so good breaks were replaced with the soft chimes of pots and pans and plastic cups hitting the surface of the table top. I was talking to myself, as I do in the car but my food filled mouth distracted others from recognizing this.
To me the cafeteria that morning was the abandoned local bar to the forty-year-old stressed out father but the sound of the morning talk show host that subtly met my ears replaced the voice of John Madden and Monday night football to the father. His cup was filled with a nice cold draft beer and mine was filled with apple juice. Despite the differences both these settings played the same roles in our hectic lives. They served as an escape, this semi deserted lunchroom served as the rehab I needed to recover from being surrounded by hundreds of strangers for the previous days. It felt to me as if I was the only freshman in this cafeteria eating alone and the conclusion I took from this is that no freshman is comfortable enough yet to be seen eating alone. I wasn’t comfortable; most freshman would go out of their way to tag along with a group of people who aren’t even truly their friends in order to avoid being seen eating alone.
As I walked out of the lunchroom that day I felt as if I once again had just walked out of my bedroom at home after having much needed worry free time to collect myself. I realized in order to stay true to myself and to not lose sight of what I came to college to do, I will need time like this alone. I felt like I had just stepped out of my car after a long traffic less ride with cars only passing sporadically as I cruised at a comfortable speed with my arm straddling the window ledge, embracing all the good life had brought me and every so often pondering the struggles. My mind was rejuvenated and ready for the day and so was my stomach. I will no longer feel bad or question people when I see them eating alone. In a way I will envy the time they are taking for themselves rather than running through life full speed without taking time to question the path they are on.