Thursday, March 08, 2012
Sean's been in Los Angeles with his mom for ten days and in that week-and-a-half, I've learned something: My views on eating alone have completely changed.
Is it because I'm lonely, you wonder? No -- even though I am, a little. It's because before, when I was single, eating alone was The Norm. I lived alone, I ate alone. I cooked only things I liked, planned for leftovers, and went out a few times a week simply to be sure I wouldn't shrivel.
Then for awhile I lived with someone, only he traveled for work all the time. Most weekdays I was alone in our house perched near the top of one of San Francisco's big hills. I'd watch the fog roll in and feel the chill begin to seep through the cracks. I hardly ever went out during this time. I was finishing the book, and I was poor and tired. Most days, an intense yoga class and a bowl of soup sounded better than fighting for a solo spot at a restaurant in the Mission.
Now, I am married. I live in a different house, near the bottom of a different hill, but I can still watch the fog roll in. And when that starts to happen, I know it's time to get up from my desk and make dinner.
I cook five nights a week, at least. Always something different, only a little repetition, and the meals are hearty. All of a sudden I cook like my mother: Meat, a side salad, maybe some bread. Ideally there's something else in there too -- A rice, quinoa, or lentil salad, roasted potatoes or brussels sprouts. Sometimes Sean eyes the dinner plate and then -- before he ever even sits down -- pulls a cheese or two from the fridge so they can soften while we eat. This means he's really hungry (a long run) or that my "substantial" meal of beans and greens isn't quite substantial enough.
Now that he's gone more, I've completely stopped cooking. I stretch my leftovers beyond what most people would consider reasonable, and eat lots of my usual lunches for dinner. This often means slabs of Acme bread with hummus, avocado, and cheese, or scrambled eggs and steamed greens dribbled with olive oil. One night I ate cheez-its and a side salad. This was the night that got me thinking.
I knew lots of girls that ate like this all the time when they were single: Bags of Trader Joe's edamame tossed with salt. Bowls of granola. Cheese and crackers. Waffles. But I was never that girl. I always cooked meals. I always took care of myself. What happened?
I think (hope) that this has less to do with slovenly behavior or a total abandonment of my self than it does with an acknowledgement of my own needs -- as separate from Sean's needs and different from our needs as a couple.
Now when I'm home alone taking care of myself means something different than it did before. Some nights I'd rather take a bath than cook dinner. Others, I'd rather crawl into bed and write or think about bohemian poets. And then there are the nights that all I really want to do is watch TV and bake coconut-cashew-cranberry granola and eat roasted brussels sprouts for dinner. Again.
I'm curious to know what you think about all this. What do you eat when you're alone? If you live with someone -- a roommate or love -- is it different when they're gone?
I don't really have plans to make any big adjustments, mind you. In fact I think that's my point: Sometimes the best way to take care of yourself is to just do the things that make you feel like you.