When I started college and chose psychology as my major I used to claim that my choice was because I wanted to understand myself. I believe now at the ripe age of 56 that we give far too much credit to 18-year-olds embarking on college careers in that we believe they are capable of making decisions as wise as they might be if they weren't quite so green. There was nothing in my study of psychology that even remotely explained to me why I made some of the choices I made, why I did some of the things I chose to do, and even why it took so long for me to realize that psychology was at best a pseudoscience. I have, however, figured out a thing or two about myself through the years and can credit scootering more than studying psychology for the conclusions to which I have come. So it is with this current entry, "Dinner for One."
I grew up in a home in which my mom, dad, sister, and I lived with my maternal grandparents and my bachelor uncle. It was a traditional home in that all of us gathered for dinner at the appointed hour each and every day. When I was in the fourth grade our nuclear unit moved to a home that my parents had had built and that tradition continued with one noteworthy exception. Each year on my parents' wedding anniversary the four of us went out to dinner to a small bar and grill where, no doubt, my dad took my mom on some of their dates because my sister and I remember being told over and over again about how the lobster dinners there used to cost $.90 back in the day when three good-sized tails along with fries and coleslaw could be had for that price.
Eventually I left mom and dad's house, got married, and the tradition continued even as my girls were born and were growing up. Each and every night we sat down to dinner together at the kitchen table with an occasional restaurant meal thrown in for good measure.
It was, a paradigm shaker, when about 10 years ago my younger daughter returned home one evening after having worked on a school project at a friend's house. When I asked what she had had for dinner she replied," Emily made us macaroni and cheese."
"But what did their family have for dinner," I asked?
"Oh, they don't have dinner together. They just make whatever they want when they're hungry."
It had never occurred to me, in my then 40 some years that there might be a family that did not sit down to dinner together every day or at least on a regular basis most of the time.
All of that leads up to this. Because of my assumption that all families sat down to dinner together just about every day, all my life it broke my heart to go to a restaurant with my family and see anybody eating a meal alone. I had always assumed the worst whenever I saw someone dining alone. A spouse had died, perhaps. A falling out with one's family had left one estranged from them. Whatever. It just never entered my thoughts that someone might be eating alone because one lives quite happily alone. I never thought that perhaps a single person living alone didn't feel like cooking dinner that particular night and went out to enjoy a restaurant meal.
And what does this have to do with scootering? Precisely this. It wasn't until I began scootering that I was ever truly comfortable with myself. My alone self. It has been riding the scooter for these past seven years that has put me in touch with my alone self, and which has made me comfortable in appreciating and enjoying my own company when I am alone. I would have chosen to go hungry before ever sitting down to eat by myself in a restaurant because I did not want to be perceived as that "poor person eating alone."
This evening I went to a local buffet and had a splendid meal with one of my favorite persons – myself! It felt like a glorious scooter ride, but with food. We no longer live in that same world in which I grew up where home was the place where they had to take you in and where you could count on a delicious dinner with the rest of the family each and every day. I guess, I'm okay with that after all, because if you can't ride a scooter by yourself you are bound to miss out on a lot of fun, or maybe even go hungry.