Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm All Alone

(Written on 3/29/2011 from Athens, Greece)
Today was the first day I’ve ever been met with disdain because of my nationality.  In all the places in the world I’ve been with different races, ethnicities, religions and beliefs, the first place somebody validated my feelings of “I should be ashamed because I’m American” was on my flight to Athens. 
After trying to make friends with an older Greek lady sitting next to me on the plane, she jumped at the opportunity to scold me for America's interference in Libya.  Although I know a bit about what's going on, it's been difficult to keep up...especially since I don't understand the news in Arabic. :)  Since I had little room to neither defend the U.S. position nor agree with her position, I let the comments pass.  In the end she came around and made sure to point out which items on my meal plate were worth eating (honey & yogurt were her recommendations).
It was an educational experience for me meet somebody who would openly admit that they're not a fan of America.  I felt like her perception of America was much like the "annoying little sibling"... a country that doesn't understand the impact and importance of its actions.  At the same time, it made me think a lot about how much media influences our perceptions of other countries and cultures.  There's much more below the surface but I will revisit at a later date because I'm just too excited about the rest of my first day in Greece...

As I sat overlooking the Acropolis at a table adorned with a white table cloth and more silverware than I knew what to do with, I couldn’t help but chuckle as the waiter brought me a glass of ‘special’ wine, not on the menu.  I must have looked like a food critic since I was alone and writing feverishly in a notebook.  I can't think of any other reason for the "above and beyond" treatment I received at a posh restaurant, especially since most people in the restaurant looked like they came from a wedding (or a funeral) and I was dressed as if I showered and threw on the first thing I could find.  This is, however, true.  And I’m quite proud that I even managed the shower part.
Eating alone is a magical thing – and one that I’m still getting used to.  As a “relationship mammal” who is constantly craving conversation, attention, connection, confirmation (and many other –tion ending words) sitting alone over a meal doesn’t come naturally to me.  Thankfully, my internal dialogue keeps me pretty entertained and I don't dwell on the empty chair opposite me.  Side note: there isn’t actually a chair across from me.  Apparently this was the table “made for one.”
Although I feed off of other people and interaction, it’s sometimes nice to have a moment to myself.  To watch others converse, smile, love, eat.  I can’t understand a lick of Greek – but I can understand the expressions on every face in this packed, fancy, stylish restaurant.  Playing witness to the 20 conversations going on around me I have this feeling of warmth and connection even without anybody to speak to (and let’s face it…we all know I can taaaaalk.)
My starter was a Greek caviar dish with lemon...tasty but a little too rich for me.  It was followed by a Greek traditional Moussaka - it's like a casserole with eggplant, meat and cheese on top that is thrown in the oven for just enough time to make it a nice golden brown crispy delight!

Greek caviar - why two piles?  Not sure.


I feel like eating carbs should be a way of life…like a religion.  I mean, Dr. Atkins had it all wrong when he tried to strike carbs from the diet.  What a woeful way to go!  Don’t get me wrong...I’ve been experiencing my own weight gain but in a lack of concern for impressing others, I’m blissfully taking on the extra pounds.  As Sarra from Tunisia said, it’s a sign of being well taken care of. 
I look around and think that if I were young, rich and Greek this would be the kind of place I would come for celebrations – birthdays (on Dad’s dime), anniversaries, graduations, etc.  And yet here I am...young (at least I would say so), not rich (we always want more, right?), and not Greek (obviously) but enjoying a night alone with some great Greek food and conversation (eavesdropping) on my first night in Athens.
Thought for you today...I encourage you to go out for a meal by yourself, especially if you've never done it before.  Instead of being uncomfortable because of what others might think, just ask yourself if you really care when others are eating by themselves?  No.  You're occupied with your food, the person you're talking to, or the conversations around you.  Take a book, a notebook or nothing at all (and especially not your cell phone)...have a moment alone with your thoughts, or write and reflect about your day, or just revel in the joy of others around you.  Let me know how it goes. ;)
And after 3 breadsticks, 3 dinner rolls, my starter, entree, a glass of Greek wine, and a cappuccino later (darn you, Katie) I’m happy as a bee in a honey pot.


  1. I love eating alone :) It takes a bit of restraint to truly sit and be still with yourself versus checking your phone or bringing a magazine or whatnot, but it's a delicious way to truly enjoy your food and the moment itself. That said however, I wouldn't mind sitting across from you for at least one meal wherever you are!

  2. Completely in agreement with the carb situation! Josh betrayed our heritage by ordering brown rice with dinner tonight instead of white. But we did enjoy some of your parents fortune cookies at the end! Miss you love you!

  3. Lauren - love it! You're probably got more restraint than me. :) Even though you're not out here with me we'll for sure have to grab a bite when I get back!

    Mads - what is Josh's issue? Isn't that like a sin???

  4. Yes...I'm still working on the restraint part. :) But I'm getting way better at it since I'm travelling alone. We'll have to share a meal when I get back!


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