I rarely go out in the evenings. This afternoon a friend invited me to an event that she was hosting this evening. I hadn’t seen her in 18 years, and she lives less than a mile away from me. I accepted the invitation, assuming that she’d be the only person I know and choosing to leave my comfort zone. Perhaps I’m still being inspired by Year of Yes, but I was aware that accepting invitations is a good thing for me and it felt like the right decision. Although many would disagree with my self-assessment, I tend to feel socially awkward and self-conscious. I get anxious in a room full of strangers. Small talk makes me uncomfortable.
I put on a dress (rare for me) and makeup (also unusual) and took a stroll to the event. I ran into another acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen in five years and caught up with him, caught up with the host a little, and spoke to strangers. Sure, I need to start being precise in my answer to, “What do you do?” rather than laughing nervously, stating my three occupational titles and being too broad about the one I’m actively trying to seek clients for. Still, one foot in front of the other. I promoted my partner’s business to people I spoke with.
After the event ended, I wandered a few blocks to a new-ish gelato place that serves soft serve and handcrafted ice cream bars. It was a lovely night, warm with a bit of humidity in the air. It felt like summer. Restaurant and bar patios were full. People were laughing, drinking beer and wine, eating cake… as people do. It sort of reminded me of New York City this time of year.
One restaurant that I passed, in particular, in both directions had a New York vibe. The restaurant had a small bar attached to it. The decor included lots of white with accents of gold and other neutral, classic colours, and the space was bright without being too harsh. The energy was electric and yet comfortable. Like, I need to pop by sometime for a glass of wine or take a date (romantic with my partner, or a friend-date). I looked at the menu posted outside, and as I read the items and prices, this occurred to me: A few years ago I might have scoffed at the cost of dishes such as cocoa nib crusted duck breast with cherry compote or whatever it was. It would have given me an unwelcome physical reaction with fear that I don’t belong, even though I grew up upper middle class and ate at neighbourhood restaurants all the time (my money story changed when I was in my 20s). Now, as the partner of a restaurant chef/owner, I recognize that the prices at the restaurant I looked at aren’t high at all for the value. Their prices are quite reasonable.
[Sidenote: While I didn’t make that connection until just now, I remember that several years ago I was in New York on Memorial Day weekend (this weekend coming up) and it was hot, humid and muggy. I ate dinner on the patio of a vegan restaurant, and the guy at the next table hit on me when his date went to the restroom. I stayed and ordered dessert so that I could keep eavesdropping on their date, which had been going poorly the entire time.]
I slowly ate my raspberry gelato ice cream bar (dark chocolate covered) as I walked home, in my dress, with my makeup, listening to a podcast, and feeling more like a member of the world. It’s weird: Though I’m 42, I still rarely feel like a “grownup”. I don’t own my home, and I don’t have children, two markers by which I judge whether someone is a grownup or not. Sure, I’m an adult. I do adult things. I still feel like a kid though, and not a grownup.
Seeing old friends and having a date with myself and wearing a dress with makeup was an experience worth saying yes for.
(And on the “having a date with myself” track, I looked good. :D )