Making a plan to go out on my own for the first time nearly set me straight up for success. With a goal and the mindset to achieve some kind of peace in being alone in public, the experience was going to be positive no matter what. Even if I didn’t check off every box on the list of what I would consider victory and triumph, it would be progress. It didn’t take much to convince me that going out alone can only get better the more you do it.
I found myself in Manhattan a few years after my first foray into my public aloneness experiment, which had since been somewhat dormant. I was in town for the rough and tumble times of New York Fashion Week, a very weird week of the year when it kills me to be alone. I need insane amounts of moral support to make it through a day of dealing with the New York fashion scene. After a stressful day of travel that kicked off at something like four o’clock in the morning, the last thing I wanted to do when I landed was deal with a bunch of perfectly made-up girls in heels whose biggest goal of the night was to get the most likes on Instagram. Turning down the dinner invitation, I kicked on my sneakers and headed toward Central Park.
Beyond the travel weariness and intimidating circle of fashion people I had escaped from, I was the most hangry I’ve ever been in my life, except maybe for the depresso I would experience the day we left New York and my two friends dragged me across the entire Upper West Side shopping from eight to eleven before I had any coffee in my system. It was the kind of hangry that can only be resolved with the divine pairing of pizza and beer, so I mapped the closest walk and ended up at a sit-down pizza and pasta chain I wish I remembered the name of.
I wallowed my way through my entire deep dish. I think it was one of the few experiences in my life where my bummer mood could have been resolved by human interaction, had it been the kind I wanted. A quiet dinner, maybe even delivery in our hotel room, with my fashion week gal pals that I actually wanted to catch up with. Of course, I forgot momentarily that the hotel situation hadn’t gone my way for the first half of fashion week and I was staying all the way downtown, alone, in the only hotel that could put me up for free, which was about the extent of my budget at this time in my life. I don’t think I smiled once during my entire meal.
I tried to snap out of it a couple times. Half of the romance behind being out in public alone is the prospect of whom you could meet. I think it comes from my writer tendencies, but I can be intrigued by almost anyone I see anywhere. Being by yourself in public lends itself easily to conditions where anything can happen. I live and die for meet-cutes, and the opportunity seems to have much more potential when out as an individual rather than a big group. But reality never listens, and meet-cutes are rare in my life. I tend to exist with a pretty downcast demeanor and I think it intimidates the masses, or at least makes them fear potential interaction. People don’t like to deal with a lot of emotion, and having a lot of emotion is the entirety of my life and being.
Beyond desire (read more on that in part one), mood is another key element to a successful solo date. Things need to be pleasant if I’m going to go out alone and enjoy myself. I need to be in a place of mild self-confidence with a settled soul. The circumstances don't need to be perfect, but my head needs to be in the right mentality. Drowning my stress and sorrows in pizza was a last resort, and left me continuing to flail in a black hole of gloomy isolation. The experience left a little black mark on my public aloneness progress report. It could have been good if this or that had gone differently. Instead, I gave up on my experiment for another year, until I took myself out once again to conquer a very specific fear.
Check back Friday for part three, because believe it or not, I went to a stand-up comedy show alone.