a single gal on Christmas Eve

What is one to do on Christmas Eve alone, but with want and means for a good meal? I adored the Greek restaurant near me, but had never dined there alone because it was very much a fine dining establishment. Ever since I received the email from this restaurant announcing their Christmas Eve menu that featured the traditional seven fishes dish I pined to dine there that night, but solo fine dining fear took over every time I considered making a reservation. Then, that morning, my director asked what my plans were for that evening, and I just said without thinking, “I’m having the traditional seven fishes dish at the Greek restaurant tonight.” A whole conversation then ensued on the seven fishes tradition, then I went to my desk and made a reservation using the Open Table app on my phone. Apparently, I really had my heart set on this.

Later that evening after work, I pulled into the parking lot, took a deep breath, and walked in. I simply said, “I have a reservation for Beatriz …” omitting the soon to be obvious fact that it was a reservation for 1. The young man found my reservation in Open Table, and he stated to his colleague that I was to be seated in the bar. I did not want to be seated in the bar for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I do not take my sobriety for granted, especially on a day like Christmas Eve where I am all by myself.

The older woman working with the young gentleman pointed to something on the screen, I’ve no idea what she pointed to (in my imagination she pointed to my history of dining with there with my friends during the¬†week), but whatever it was it convinced her to change my seating, and she said to the young man that they could seat me in the dining room since it would be more comfortable. Then she looked up at me and asked, “Do you have a preference between the dining room or the bar?” In my most accommodating voice that I could muster I said, “the dining room if you can accommodate me there.”

And she replied, “Absolutely.”

I felt like I won some elusive prize with gaining admission to the dining room of a fine dining establishment on Christmas Eve as a single female solo diner. It feels like a strange achievement, though it shouldn’t because all that happened is that I have money in my bank account for this meal, made a reservation on Open Table and appeared for said reservation in a timely fashion. The situation was as simple as a single woman with the ability to take oneself out to on Christmas Eve. It’s that simple, and it isn’t all at the same time.

In the restaurant, there were no other singles present, not in the dining room, not in the bar. I was a bit of a novelty at first with the staff, but I found the more normal, at ease, and happy that I appeared the more relaxed they became. We had a potentially shaky start when my waiter asked me, “Waiting for one more?” And I gave him a friendly relaxed smile, and said, “It’s just me tonight.” He recovered quickly, and I could tell that my own demeanor about dining alone set him at ease as well. I learned if you don’t act weird, they are less likely to act weird towards you. Not a full-proof rule, but a good place to start. On this night, this rule helped me find my way to an enjoyable meal. I started with the traditional Avgolemono soup, which is a chicken, rice and lemon soup. The memory of the pucker of the lemon makes me wish I had some as I’m typing this post this very minute.

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The fresh pita with the spread of the day, that night it was roasted red pepper puree, is always worth the price of admission to this establishment. Too many times I eat too much pita before my meal arrives. Today I exercised unusual restraint.

 

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A bottle of Souroti Greek sparkling water in a marble glass holder can give you that chi chi feeling you may miss from having a bottle of wine at your table.

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The seven fishes dish was heavenly. I had to restrain myself from bringing the bowl to my face to drink the remaining broth.

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Towards the end of my meal the dining room started to fill up with couples and families galore. I was smart in choosing the early 5:45 reservation. I paid my bill, and presented my coat check ticket to the lovely older woman who changed my seating to the dining room. She asked me, “How was your meal?”

“It was lovely. I’ve always wanted to have the seven fishes dish on Christmas Eve.”

“Just so you know, we put our own Greek spin on it, so if you ever have it any place else it will likely be different.”

“It was amazing. Thank you.”

She touched my arm and said, “Have a good Christmas dear.”

Behind the curtains

New black curtains shading for the sun.

The big heavy curtains covering the window that is my life are starting to open up. I want to fling open those heavy things. Hell, I want to rip them off their curtain rods.

Alas, I am not there yet. A sliver of light coming in through the crack between the curtains is where I am at the moment. But, trust me, those curtains are going to open. I am doing whatever it takes to open them, come what may. Without opening those curtains I will be trapped in my compartmentalized life for the rest of my living days.

Every day I am doing something, whether it’s big or small, towards the effort of opening those curtains further. Some days may be tiny steps, and other days may be leaps, but it all counts towards the goal.

I’ve no idea where any of this is going to go for my life. I have a number of dreams that have been deferred in trying to get better: writer, partner, dog owner, attorney … Hell, even “being a good friend” has been a dream deferred for a while as I now recognize that there have been significant periods of time when I was too compromised with dissociation to truly be a good friend.

The world outside of those curtains is a mysterious and scary dark sea, but I am jumping in, nonetheless. At least when the day comes when I’m drawing my last breath I will know that I tried my best. I may not succeed at all my dreams, but I sure as hell will have tried my best.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I kept eating burgers

A cheeseburger.

I went to a party today, and had too many hamburgers. They were nothing like the picture above. They were the smallish homemade burgers that remind me of burgers at Stuckey’s. I’ve no idea what burgers are like these days at Stuckey’s, but back in the day (the 1980s), burgers at Stuckey’s were small and oddly tasty to me when I was a child.

As I bit into the first burger at today’s party I was instantly transported to that very abbreviated time in my family when things were okay. I wouldn’t say they were great, but they were okay and certainly tolerable. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the few childhood memories I recall so well.

The discovery of Stuckey’s occurred on a car trip from the Southwestern United States all the way to the Northeast. We were on a month long car trip to visit my stepfather’s family. Stuckey’s burgers were exciting for me and my sisters because we had never known a life of eating out. A cooler full of Sunkist soda and Big Red was a boon for us as well. We felt rich, and carefree with all these new conveniences and treats in our lives.

Then there were hotel rooms! Who knew such a thing existed? All of us piled into one hotel room with a rollaway bed for me. It was pure fun, even with my sisters stepping over me in the rollaway to get to the bathroom. It was like we finally stepped in the realm of Middle Class America.

Stuckey’s burgers were cheap, and my parents would buy them by the bagful for us. To go from a life of true hunger to having a bagful of burgers on demand was mind blowing at times. It’s amazing that a bagful of burgers and a cooler of soda can make a child feel like they’ve arrived in life. We learned all the Beach Boys songs and listened to them ad naseum, but it was an ideal soundtrack for that summer trip. It’s wasn’t a beach summer by any means, and we came nowhere near California. But the cheery cheesy songs were fitting to the dreamy and jubilant experience.

For the first time in our lives we had some consistency. If we stopped at Stuckey’s we knew we were getting burgers. The cooler always had soda. In the hotel room I always slept on the rollaway bed, and Beach Boys tapes were all we listened to in the car. We had never had any consistency of any kind, and innocuous things such as this made me and my sisters feel an odd sense of safety and stability that we never knew before that trip.

The dark period in our family started up again later after that summer, but during that trip all was mostly well. And just as I never wanted that period to end, I didn’t want the memory to end today. I wanted to hold on to it, so I kept eating burgers.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)