Lonely Dinner — are you familiar with this dish? Hint: you have the opportunity to make someone feel about 10x better right now. Just say: yup, it’s in my rotation too. Or, even better: I think it might be something of a staple, for the twentysomethings of the world.
Around here, Lonely Dinner can look an awful lot like Lonely Breakfast. For you too?
There aren’t really any rules, when it comes to Lonely Dinner. Sometimes it’s just made up of all the things I’ve ignored all week. This week, in favor of chocolate chip almond butter cookies.
Gifted from a faraway friend with an oven and a big big heart, I thought they’d make for infinitely better company than freezer-burned chicken and limping-along vegetables. I felt sure you’d agree.
Questionable chicken (what did I do, forget to zip the bag all the way across?) and the odds and ends pulled from the back of the fridge (half of a sweet potato, slightly slimy spinach, a fourth of an orange bell pepper, a caramelized onion, an almost-empty jar of tomato sauce) — that’s Lonely Dinner, more often than not. It’s served straight from the six-inch skillet and it never tastes exactly the same, but it often comes with a side of Salty Tears.
I know what you’re thinking. I only have ten days left in New York. This should be the easiest stretch of them all. So…why so glum, sugar plum?
Maybe it was all of the rain this week. Maybe it was all of the human interaction I didn’t have.
Or maybe it was the night I had to evacuate my apartment (underground explosion + gas leak + raging fire), and spend six sleepy hours standing by a bodega in the middle of Manhattan, with an inch of water in my boots, and absolutely nowhere to go. No one I felt brave enough to call. Let me tell you how alone feels.
Or maybe it was the afternoon I realized that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. And zero ideas about what I would like to do or where I might like to go, either. Maybe it was the split second I realized that I am a complete mess — with no idea how to live, how to love, how to trust. Because intimacy isn’t who you let touch you — although, now that you mention it, that might be an okay place to start.
Maybe it was the morning that my heart splintered right down the middle, and it had nothing to do with me. No boy has ever come close to breaking my heart — how could I have thought I knew, had a clue?
Or maybe it was the day I had an opportunity handed to me on a silver platter, and I greedily gobbled it all up, and then I went home and made a folder called Book Ideas, and felt like throwing up.
There are these massive highs and these massive lows. I seem to sit on a seesaw, when I live alone. Sometimes I think in terms of good week or good day, and other times my feet feel anchored to the ground and I have to take it hour by hour.
Do you have to do what I do? Do you have to push yourself to keep pulling props up around you?
Going for walks is one of my props. Soon there won’t be any buildings in the way.
Friend dates are the biggest upper ever. Grilled cheese and mostly cheese salads are a close second.
Ice cream sandwiches are a good Hey! Another day down!
And when you’re lying in bed scrolling through your phone, hungry for the kind of connection you’re probably not going to find there, I recommend peanut butter cups. The white chocolate kind. Even if even now, you’re thinking: dark chocolate for all of your days.
Trust. Can you do that? We’ll do it together.