On Doing Stuff Alone (Part 2)

Today, I had another alone day (although not completely by choice, I’ll admit). I’ve been in Alexandria, Virginia – right outside of Washington DC – for the weekend, and was left today to figure out how exactly to spend my day all by my lonesome.

Surprisingly (or dare I say – unsurprisingly?), I had an amazing day. I started by slowly strolling along the Potomac River and followed some signs to a park where a festival was taking place to commemorate the bicentennial something or other of the War of 1812 (although, given that this is 2014, it’s technically bicentennial + 2 years, no?). As I was about to leave, I caught sight of a bunch of people dressed up in colonial gear with musical instruments – a drum corps from the Army, they marched to the park and proceeded to play patriotic tunes while marching around. Army drum corps in colonial gear, playing patriotic songs in front of the Potomac River – I would say this is as America as it gets. In fact, I think that’s how I would sum up Old Town Alexandria, VA – “As America as it gets.” Anyway, the drum corps was awesome!

Afterwards, I wandered around and saw a cute cobblestone street, walked into a Christmas attic store and did some shopping at a boutique called Lou Lou’s. I then went back to Killer ESP, a coffeeshop where we’d gotten gelato the day before, to grab a salted caramel soy latte (seriously amazing – also, free WiFi at this place!), settle down, and write a birthday card for a friend. All this because I was biding/killing time until a piano performance at the Lyceum by pianist Thomas Pandolfi. I had never heard of him before but was excited by the program, which I’d found online last night.

I was probably one of the only people under the age of 50 at this recital, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I sat in the second row, right in the middle, with an amazing view of the pianist, his hands, and his feet. The program that had been posted online was wrong, so he did not play Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu or Gershwin’s Rhapsody. He did, however, play Beethoven’s famous Sonata Pathetique as well as various other tunes that I was able to recognize. It reminded me how much I really love classical piano music (with the exception of Debussy – he played two Debussy pieces, including Claire de Lune, and I remembered again how I strongly dislike the impressionisticky/too-lyrical sounds of Debussy). I was especially impressed by the Chopin Etudes and the intimate setting of the concert really engaged me much more than I expected. It also went for two hours – also longer than I’d expected, but again, I was so happy to be there and had such a great time listening and watching him perform.

After the concert, I went to a Greek restaurant that we’d walked past the day before. They had taramasalata on the menu posted outside, so there was no question of where I was going to eat my early dinner. I asked for a table for one and actually had such a wonderful experience. Loved the ambiance of the restaurant, loved the food – the tastes were flavorful and just really delicious – loved the service, and actually really loved eating by myself. I wonder if eating alone (and not being able to talk, really) made me enjoy the food more, because you actually think more about what you’re eating and the flavors that are in your mouth.

It’s interesting because, while I thoroughly enjoyed my day/meal alone, I was texting a friend who expressed being tired of eating alone because it felt lonely. I think that there’s a difference when you eat alone or go out alone because you choose to have an alone day for yourself versus when you eat alone because you’re new to a city or don’t know anyone to go out with. It’s been a cool experiment to try to do stuff myself, but I’m also fully aware that it might seem more “fun” because I’m consciously choosing to go out alone.

Thank you, Alexandria, for a lovely alone day today and for a beautiful weekend. Special thanks to the Navy Band, the Army drum corps and Thomas Pandolfi for the beautiful musical performances this weekend – I’m really starting to recognize how important and meaningful music is (has been, and will be) in my life. I hope to blog more about music in the future as I use this blog to figure out my goals in life, because I’m fairly confident that music is a field I feel particularly drawn to.

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