Madrid / Musings

A Table for One

Tonight was the España-Francia fútbol game.

I walked home early this evening pondering what I was going to do with my free night until I realized the game was on. I whipped out my phone and texted my (limited) social circle to see who was watching it and where. By the time my 30 minute walk was over, I had exhausted all my options only to learn that no one was watching the game. I entered my apartment building questioning what I should do next. I could find the game online and save the money instead of going out solo…I don’t really feel like being coped up in the apartment though…

After an hour of waffling on what to do and I put on my big girl shoes, dressed myself in as much confidence as I could muster, and closed the door of the apartment taking determination with me. Briskly but hesitantly walked to my neighborhood favorite. Nerves, shame and self-consciousness screamed for me to pass it by…. so I did. I walked past the entrance and its corner windows, peaking in, longing but justifying.

Anna, what are you doing? I asked myself minutes later. I turned around and returned, this time with more resolve than the last.

There it was: the door to my being able to watch the game, which inconveniently was also the door that I believed lead to looks, pity, and judgement…. I entered anyway. I found a small table with a great view of the screen and tucked my back to the window.

Do you know what happened next? Nothing. That is, nothing that wouldn’t have otherwise happened had I been with a group. I ordered; I watched; I yelled; I enjoyed. Do you know what else? Sure, there was a look or two, but largely I was met with smiles. Smiles from the parents at the table across from me as their little one stuffed his dinosaurs into the bread they wanted to eat. Smiles from the ladies across the way that also held glasses of red wine amongst a world of beer. It was fine. I was fine. In fact, I enjoyed it.

As I was leaving I thought about what the evening would have been had I decided to not go. I pictured an evening spent in my apartment wishing I was out and about, bemoaning that no one was available. In the abstract is it sad that I went to watch the game alone because none of my friends were available? Sure. But what’s sadder still: going to a bar alone and watching the game or hiding out at home lamenting the fact that I had no one with whom to watch the game? Should I truly allow the latter to preclude me from doing the very thing I wanted to do? If yes, Why? If no, then why are we so afraid to be alone? Why are we as travelers and city dwellers so willing to be defined by the presence of others? While my company may serve as a reflection of my character, am I not fundamentally more than the company I keep?

This one night- this one game- does not serve as a defining tool for my social acclimation nor my identity nor anything else. How could it? It is simply one game! So why is it that as travelers, as beings, as humans, we put so much emphasis on the person who sits alone? Must I be confined to watching the game on some sketchy online site (which is likely to give my computer viruses) because I cannot stomach the idea of sitting among a group of people who all possess equal interest to watch the exact game I want to watch? In the real world would that not indicate that there is at least one point of common interest and with said commonality conversation- even minimal- could arise? Have greater friendships not started on less? I have no doubt. In fact, some of mine have!

So, to the one who finds herself in a city with friends that all happen to be busy on this one night, I challenge you to go anyway. Take a deep breath, choose somewhere close so you can’t talk yourself out of it on the way there and hold your head up upon entering. This one night, this one instance does not serve as a defining reality of your worth. In fact, the contrary is true. Your ability to walk into an establishment alone for possibly this one night to enjoy the game [insert applicable thing here], speaks more to you than staying at home and hiding ever could.


Ps. In the last minute, France tied the game. It was crazy.


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