There are a couple of authors I admire who encourage creative types to hang out with themselves. This is no big deal to an introvert, but sometimes we make for a boring “self date.” Sitting on the bed or in a car, scrolling through social media for the latest outrage or eye roll – snooze! It’s not like an A+ “Artist’s Date” as Julia Cameron calls it needs to be a radically different occasion, just slightly more interesting.
Lately, I’ve been remembering the time I took a semester off from community college. (Those electives were really stressing me out…) And the memorable time I dined alone.
At that time, I worked three part-time jobs and had a pretty low rent payment, so I had unusual pockets of time, and, for the first time ever, expendable income. So, one day, I treated myself on my lunch hour to the Red Iguana, one of my favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City. And I went all by myself. In the past, I had only gone to the Iguana on awkward or tragically ending dates. This time, it was me, a plate of mole enchiladas, my journal and silence. I don’t know if I ever went to a “nice” restaurant like that again by myself, but it was certainly memorable. And for the record, not only am I an introvert, but also an empath – I feel things very deeply – and, an enneagram 2, aka “the helper.” So sometimes it is very hard to do things that are just for myself. Sometimes it’s hard even to feel things that are purely me, but perhaps that “Artist’s Date” or, more fitting, “Epicurean’s Date,” was the beginning of an awareness of self-care. And maybe it was a tad indulgent, but sometimes you have to be excessive to know that you are loved.
When I was nineteen and on hiatus from my pre-degree studies, I was experiencing all sorts of deprivation. I had moved out of the household of my family of origin, I was beginning to question the belief systems that grounded my church community, and I was eager to find love – but increasingly skeptical of relationships. Not to mention I was about to give up on higher learning and just become a beatnik barista – so much was hanging in the balance. And even though it wasn’t the Red Iguana that did it, spoiler alert, it was the Spirit of God – I do think those enchiladas, and the permission to buy them for myself, fed me in a way that was substantial and dare I say, transformative.