I had to learn to be alone again.
Like reconciling with stage fright or attempting to ride the bicycle once more,
the experience was familiar yet terrifying because it’s been so long and I had forgotten just how to.
I take myself out to eat. It was difficult at first – the way the waiter shifts uncomfortably when I ask for a table for one.
But I started with fast food restaurants and coffee shops -where being alone was acceptable. Then, the brunch places that we used to go. Soon, perhaps I will try places with linen, silverware and menus without any pictures on them.
I resist the urge to scroll through my phone, to seem like I had messages or emails to reply when all I am really doing is scroll through the perfectly curated social media lives of others, feeling more and more inferior and lonely.
Instead, I immerse myself in the food; between strands of pasta and grains of rice, in the labyrinth of a crusty baguette or the grain of steaks, in glasses-fogging coffee steam and the feel of cakes yielding to my dessert fork.
I go to the movies alone. I used to sneak in when the lights have dimmed so that no one would see. But now I try to go in with everybody else and endure all the pre-movie commercials. I laugh loudly, prop my feet up and eat all the popcorn by myself.
I go shopping by myself and take forever in the fitting rooms; not feeling weighed down by the guilt of someone waiting for me outside.
I buy the things that I love; be as provocative or conservative as I want to be. I no longer have to wonder if this dress or that is something you would’ve liked.
Instead of buying dental floss for my butt, I buy comfortable underwear.
Some Friday nights, I buy my favorite wine and watch an entire season of Sherlock in my pyjamas. Other nights I drink beers from 7-11 and eat from lok lok vans because some things don’t change even when you’re gone.
Mostly, I try to find joy in my own company, to take up a new hobby and rekindle old ones, to remind myself that I am whole, despite the gaping hole;
that just because I am alone, it does not necessarily mean that I am lonely.