Table For One… by JoAnn

A woman sitting at the table with food.

I have lived alone for going on five years now. I have been single 3X that long. I have mastered many things as a lone individual, but I still struggle with many others daily.

Some things just don’t make sense when you do it with only one person, like cooking. I began cooking at the age of 13. I cooked for my parents, my sister, and me. I then was married with a family of five. I cooked a homemade dinner every day while my kids were growing up. After my last little bird flew from the nest, I had to learn how to cook for just myself. It has been near impossible to succeed. I had over 30 years under my belt, cooking for a family. It seems ridiculous to cook a meal for just one person now. The time and effort it takes are just not worth it. Not to mention the dirty dishes, pots, and pans.

I have gotten used to doing household chores that many couples take for granted. I chuckle whenever I hear a woman on television telling her husband to take out the trash. That is my job now, and mine alone. I am happy to do it as it is a pet peeve of mine for trash to pile up. I am more than happy to take it out. Taking the garbage can to the end of my driveway is another story. I don’t look forward to that. It isn’t easy to move the big heavy bin. If I take it to the curb the night before, then my next-door neighbor may not have enough room to pull in his pickup truck. If I wait till the morning, I risk forgetting or oversleeping and missing the garbage truck. That almost happened to me today. I hit the alarm button and fell back to sleep.

Shopping is more difficult being alone in my opinion. For example, buying a whole head of lettuce makes no sense if I’m the only one making sandwiches. I have yet to finish a head of lettuce without it turning brown. I rarely use a whole package of anything. If I buy a half loaf of bread, that works. But my favorite bread doesn’t come in a half loaf. The freezer has become my friend. I freeze portions of meals and packaged food whenever I can. If I don’t, more will be thrown away than eaten. I am still learning!

Buying in bulk is also tricky. It’s almost always more economical to buy things like toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, etc., in bulk. But when you are the only one, it takes such a long time to use up the items. Is it really worth paying the extra money for bulk? I have found with most things, buying only what I need right now saves me the most money in the long run. Again, I am still learning.

I have never minded sitting alone at a table in a restaurant. It doesn’t make me feel sad or lonely. I will, however, choose a time when my favorite cafe is less busy. I enjoy the quietness. I can chat with the waitress and enjoy my food more. If it is a busy time of day, I prefer to get it to go and either eat in my car or bring it home.

Many things will never feel the same as having to do alone. Going to a movie or renting one has always been more fun when shared with another. Decorating for the holidays feels pointless most years. Most definitely cooking a holiday meal. Planning a vacation alone seems like more of a chore than a pleasure and usually gets put off for another time. Hopefully, a time when someone I enjoy being with, whether family or friend, can come along.

I don’t want sympathy for being alone. I would much rather be seated at a table for one and be content than at a table with many and feel stress and unhappiness. I consider myself blessed to be able to come and go as I please without feeling the need to answer to anyone. I have been there and done that and was not a fan.

So I guess all this means is you can’t have it all. Or most people can’t. Some rare couples would be lost without one another and would not be happy or content living alone. I was dealt a different hand in life and have come to terms with that. Now, I will have it made if I can just learn to cook for one.