Solo Act

Maybe it’s about twenty years of business travel under my skirt.  Maybe it’s my age.  Approaching 50, i find i could give far less than a fractional fuck about what strangers think of me. 

Or maybe it’s just because time alone is a luxury, providing a little time to think without distraction, or the need to attend to someone else.

Spending just over 24 hours alone, on the front end of a business trip.  Some combination of a need for sunshine and a need to change up the scenery brought me to the airport a day earlier than truly necessary for this trip.

Soaking up my share of photons poolside in the unseasonably warm afternoon, while blowing the dust off of a book i’d started and abandoned months ago.  Floating on the edge of the pool, with my chin on the warm red bricks.  The smell of baking clay and chlorine.

Wandering off to the river district, watching the families, couples and roving hen parties gearing up for a big Saturday night out on the town.  Slow stroll on the cobblestones as the sun dropped. 

Looking at the bars and restaurants and taking my time deciding on what i wanted to do for dinner.  No need to consult anyone else, it was entirely my choice, and i didn’t want to rush.

The winner?  Irish pub on the river made the cut.  Fish and chips, with malt vinegar.  At the bar, settled in between a couple engrossed in conversation, and a group of probable business folks, collecting for happy hour. 

No book.  No television to catch my gaze.  No newspaper, blackberry, phone or magazine in my hand.  It hit me — ten years ago, i could never have done this.  Sitting alone at a bar in a somewhat unfamiliar city.  Ordering a pint, and dinner.

But “the game” never fails to amuse me…. Eavesdropping on conversations.  Trying to imagine what sorts of bodies belong to the voices from behind me.  Watching the bartenders – racing here and there, washing glasses and settling tabs as if world peace depended on it. 

Reconsidering my retirement plans to tend bar as the ass-nugget next to me reveals his hootin’ and hollerin’ voice.  Attempting to chat up the bartender, and pretend that they’ve been best buddies for years.  The little blonde next to him mutters something about “inside voice” but he can’t hear it over his own bleating stupidity.

Finishing my dinner, i asked for another pint in a ‘go cup’ – the civilized city i’m camped in allows alcohol in ‘open containers’ on the street, with a rather fierce enforcement policy about public intoxication.  You can drink on the streets, but you damn well better not be drunk.

Wandering the river district after dark.  Sipping a beer on a beautiful evening, while watching the container ships move out to sea.  Watching couples snuggle on a bench.  A man cleaning up after a dog the size of a small ox.  A fellow who seemed to be the official ‘greeter’, welcoming everyone who came along with a “How ya doin’ tonight, folks?”

My skin.  It’s getting more comfortable with each passing year.

52 thoughts on “Solo Act

    • i’m coming out of a somewhat dark stretch, and needed something like this to reset my registers. it worked. my ‘dawg boyz’ are now in the house, and i can start to get down to some serious play and silliness… Life is indeed good!

  1. It does take a few years and belt notches to feel comfort in ones skin. Congrats on “gettign there” Beer in a take out cup, pray tell what fantastical city of America this is???
    cheers, Sasuage…

    • In the eastern time zone, there are two that i know of with such friendly laws – New Orleans, and Savannah… i’m hanging out in the latter this week, and loving it!

  2. A few years ago, after ending a long relationship that had turned extremely unhappy, I drove about two hours north by myself to see a concert in New Hampshire, and because I’d been on the road all day, needed to find something for dinner. I chose an Italian restaurant, sat at the bar, had a glass of wine, listened to conversations nearby. This was the first time I’d ever gone out for a nice meal on my own, and I remember thinking, enjoying my own company is isn’t so bad. Nice, even.

    • a bit of a defining moment, isn’t it? it’s one thing to do it in airports and hotels – where solo travelers are all over the place, and there are many small ‘tables for one’… but it’s a little tougher otherwise. and can be a good damn time!

  3. It may not seem like it, but I’m about as anti-social as they come (it’s hereditary). Still, when I’ve travelled solo on business, I’ve always felt a bit….weird when dining alone. Never enjoyed it, really.

    Your descriptions of the pub are apt. That’s the nexus of it, isn’t it? People are so absorbed in the minutiae of daily life that they never step back and look at the big picture. Of course, the marketers like it that way.

    “The game”? That’s for those who are more animal than human.

    racing here and there, washing glasses and settling tabs as if world peace depended on it

    ….I despise arbitrary deadlines. Of any kind.

    • you? anti-social? :-D Never noticed! the solo travel gig is easier – i will often have a book, laptop or newspaper to entertain me during a solo dinner. much different without ‘props’.

      i’m not sure the staff ‘rush’ was all that arbitrary – tips depend on it. whether they’re pulling pints for those of us at the bar, or filling drink orders for the servers working the table, there’s money on the line… and i’m pretty sure i don’t wanna do it…

  4. Glad you got to have some “me” time after all you’ve been through lately. I love floating in a pool too. There must be something very in-utero and comforting about it—like floating in amniotic fluid. Yikes, there’s something I never thought I’d be saying. :)

    • it is… and one of my favorite things to do when practicing ‘neutral buoyancy’ in scuba class is to hang completely upside down and ‘get neutral’ – not trivial, because the bubbles from my regulator can fill my swimsuit, and i can launch quickly to the surface. if you do it right, your breathing creates a slow ‘piston’ motion… floating upside down, rising and falling slowly with my own breath? VERY much like a ‘back to the womb’ adventure!

  5. Savananah, Ga or San Antonio? that’s my guess, i’ve made a living doing what you’ve been doing, still do it when i get the chance but i got these two sets of little blue eyes that i don’t like to be away from long, sometimes it amazes me Miss Daisy just how much i love being a dad and just how glad i am i lived to be one, got called home last friday night cuz Nick Disaster wanted his daddy, no one else just daddy, could hear him over the phone babbling his long drawn out daaaady, when the key hit the lock he yelled Daddy Home!!!, ran over and wrapped his arms around my kneecaps and said “up pease”, i picked him up and he smiled and said nite nite and laid his little head on my shoulder… if you’d have told me ten years ago that would be me i would have laughed, these days those two sets of eyes are the only thing that keeps me going. keep on keepin on girl.

    • i didn’t know San Antonio had open container… maybe on riverwalk. very cool…. and i love your tales about your li’l critters. my young ‘uns kept me far more grounded during those years than i could have ever imagined. it might have been pretty ugly without them to anchor me.

  6. My crap ears don’t allow me the joy of eavesdropping on conversations anymore so my pleasure from people watching these days comes from wondering what people might be talking about and inventing conversations. A lot of fun!

    • inventing conversations is one i use in airports – with people sitting too far away for me to hear! that game is even more fun with a partner, though, as you can assume personalities and voices…

    • just one hand? that’s pretty zen, there, fella… but i’m pretty sure i’ll be back to my scrambled self as soon as i retrieve my shitmobile from the parking lot at the airport when i get home. but it’s lovely while it lasts!

    • thank you! suspect just getting away from the homestead was a big part of my enjoyable meanderings this week. change of scenery can work wonders… not annoyed by all of those pesky projects i’m ignoring around the house!

  7. very peaceful – using all your senses – sounds like sitting in the eye of hurricane… makes me wonder if the next day you woke up with superpowers you never knew you had.

  8. oh same here daisy….I went to the shop yesterday wearing a t-shirt, cardigan, grey cords, converse all topped off with a nasa baseball cap,….the girlfriend was mortified….I couldn’t have cared less….good times…

  9. I look forward to a 3 hour car ride by myself to meet friends 2 or 3 times a year (which was recently canceled). I’m going to have to try and pull a full 24 sounds delightful. You just did what I have been trying to accomplish for the past 6 months. Is this what mid life crisis does?

    • in my car? i sound like David Bowie and all sorts of great singers! this works better when i’m alone! i hope you get your ‘alone’ time…. good for clearing the head!

  10. There is such freedom in alone time and how it’s spent. It always amazes me when people can’t spend time with just themselves.

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