I taught in theory against this question when I trained hosts in the restaurant. I never wanted to imply that something or someone is missing in the equation as a person arrives for service. I now know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this question.
On my trip through New England, every time (every single time) I checked in with a host at either a restaurant, pub or brewery, they would follow up with, “just one?” Even the default setting on the Hotwire app assumes 1 room, 2 adults when making a hotel reservation.
My point isn’t about self-pity or to chide the service industry for lack of sensitivity. Instead, I have chosen to let it remind me about my new reality. The trip was planned in 2018 for two. It was realized by one.
It’s coming up on a year of my new reality and I still haven’t figured out how to answer the question, “So, how are you doing?”
Fine? Great? OK? Good? Not so good?
The fact is, they are all true at times.
I had a good time in New England. I drove about 1500 miles through eight states. Which mostly felt like a drive to Scotsbluff and back, except with better scenery. I listened to whatever I wanted to. I stopped whenever I wanted to. I stayed wherever I wanted to. I ate and drank wherever I wanted to. When did I ever do that while married? That part was great.
But when the occasional bartender asked me what I was doing in town, I usually led with the reply, “I’m on a discovery tour to learn what it means to fly solo in midlife.” The puzzled look led to my explanation that I lost my wife last year and she was supposed to be on this trip with me, so I decided to go ahead and complete it without her. I don’t have any other choice now. She’s not coming back for a command performance.
I guess what I’m saying is this: I’m not moving on, but I am moving forward. In my mind, moving on implies forgetting what was. I can’t do that. For good or bad, for better or worse, I can’t erase the last 30 years. They are with me and a part of my body and soul til I die.
Moving forward has its focus on the future, not my past. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I’m going to reach out and grab my share.
I’m going to keep traveling, because the open road tells me new stories.
I’m going to keep writing, because someone will hear their voice through mine.
I’m going to keep creating, because important things will eventually exist because my hands fashioned them.
I’m going to keep watching, because my eyes might see what yours don’t.
I’m going to keep setting the table, because you will always need a place to rest.