I did something last night I’ve never done before. I took myself out on a date. Bonnie Raitt was in town and, though I’ve been a fan for a couple of decades, I’ve never seen her live in concert. I did not want to miss seeing her because I am not dating anyone, and it was short notice to try to round up a friend….. and something was urging me not to do that anyway. I’ve been to concerts alone many times but always in a far more casual venue where everyone wasn’t ‘coupled up’, and I was photographing the event which is a very different thing, indeed. Ms. Raitt was playing at the enormous symphony hall and no photography was allowed during the performance so, I couldn’t be ‘working’ or hide behind my camera. A couple of low-quality, phone pics (before/after the show) were all that was allowed.
It may seem to be no big deal to others, but it took some bravery for me to do this. Coming up with the ‘date’ idea helped. Instead of viewing it as being alone, going alone, sitting through the concert…alone; going alone gave birth to thinking of it as taking myself on a date. I decided to go all the way with it. I prepared myself as though I were meeting a man I loved. I showered with that in mind. I put on one of my favorite black dresses, my black tights, and my black suede boots. I put on ‘night’ makeup, a little heavy and a little glitter. All of this shifted my perspective from thinking about possibly being the only one in the concert hall with no date to an attitude of self-love. A way of taking care of me, enjoying my life, and being worth the trouble of the grooming and preparation I would normally do for a man.
When I arrived at the concert hall, the woman taking tickets looked at me and said, “Is it just you?”. This is an interesting response you run into when you’re single….a single woman, anyway. This always strikes me as a strange and unnecessary thing to say and point out. I’ve been single for over a year now and this is a regular occurrence. It happens when I ride the train to go see my Mom, also. I’ve heard it said to women who were in line in front of me at events and at the train station but never once have I heard it said to a man who is alone. Maybe it has happened, just not when I was present to hear it, but there seems to be a mindset (in the northwest, at least) that it’s somehow odd for a woman to be alone. It’s very interesting. Once, when boarding Amtrak, the conductor said it to the woman in line before me and then, again, to me. As I walked onto the train, the other woman laughed and said, ‘Why do they always think we need some sort of reminder that we’re alone?’ I agreed. It attaches a ‘wrongness’ to it. “Is it just YOU?” They may as well say, so that the entire line can hear, “Oh, you poor thing, you had no one to come with? Oh my, how pitiful. You must feel like such a loser.” Hahaha… that would, at least, inject some humor into it.
When I was in Italy, I stopped to ask a couple for directions and the woman said, Are you ALONE?!” I said, Yes. She replied, “Oh my god! You traveled abroad by yourself?!!!”. Her reply was in horror, not giddy happiness for me. I again replied, Yes, and shared with her that I didn’t think it would be a very nice life if I never went anywhere because I didn’t have a man in my life. She was not impressed. As you may have guessed by now, they were an American couple who had just come to Italy from the United States for their vacation. My aloneness was never pointed out, or even noticed, by Europeans. They seem to be very comfortable traveling alone and they travel often. I like that. It’s never been said to me or noticed in New York either, where people attend whatever they want, all the time… alone. And, as mentioned, I did not hear it in Europe, but I certainly did hear it from customs as I re-entered the USA. The customs official even asked me WHY I was traveling alone.
I enjoyed the concert. Very, very much. And, on my way home, I stopped at my favorite restaurant and had some dinner and a glass of wine. And…who walks in? Bonnie Raitt’s band members. She has a great group of people working with her.
None of this is to say that I would not enjoy traveling, concerts, meals, etc. with others or with a partner. I enjoy the company of friends very much. I would even say that I would like more of that in my life. As for going on a date (with someone other than myself, haha)….maybe someday. But not in the foreseeable future. This is not a put down for being in a relationship, it is simply about a shift in perspective for myself and my life, as it is now. I have not been on so much as a coffee ‘date’, nor have I had any desire to do so, since my last relationship and I have accepted being alone. Something shifted for me tonight and I am so grateful that I followed through with this experiment in bravery, as I like to call it. As I listened to Bonnie sing, her voice richer and more beautiful than ever, I thought about her strength as a woman and realized I am stepping into that kind of strength and confidence and love. And, I chuckled, when she opened the concert with the song “Real Man”.