It's 9 pm on the Friday before Labor Day in Boston, a city I love but where I know no one. My date fell through so I find myself at the Woman-Traveling-Alone critical crossroad: go to a bar by myself or order Chinese in.
The bar around the corner from my guest house (I always opt for a cozy guest house over the standard corporate hotel of business travel) looks manageable enough - airy, not desperately trendy, populated by at least some people born before 'text' became a verb. Never one to wonder what might have been, I dismiss the Szechuan chicken, walk in and strategically place myself between a couple playing Scrabble and a midlife threesome enjoying some beers. So far so good.
I order a Pinot Grigio and reach for my Blackberry. On the other end my friend mercifully answers my instant message and encourages me to enjoy myself. So I do. I chat with the bartender. I exchange small talk with the threesome. I order food and relax. No one looks at me strangely. I remember that I am in my Second Half and can do whatever I want. The trick is knowing what you want. And it's not eating Chinese take-out alone on a Friday night.
The bar has filled up and I am content doing some serious New England people watching. I am enjoying the moment. And I was just invited to join in a game of Scrabble by some brainy MIT students. Cool. So glad I walked into the bar alone. Whatever else happens, bring it....