The first time I was alone
It was not by choice
I got dumped by friends who made empty promises
Who cancelled dates last minute
Who left me behind to join other more popular groups of friends
The last time I was alone
It was my choice
Too used to spending time with myself
I might have forgotten how it’s like to completely enjoy the company of my friends or anyone around me
Without thinking that this person might just walk out of my life anytime the same way the others did
I still remember how it felt like when I ate alone at a restaurant for the first time.
I was at junior college.
I used to hang out a lot with this Indian girl in class.
Maybe like her who was quite like an outcast, I also couldn’t really fit myself in or feel comfortable with the rest of the so-called “cliques” in class
So we both would end up together most of the time.
It was school holidays and students were busy preparing for the upcoming final exams.
We promised each other that we would meet up in school to study together to motivate each other.
And then we would go eat something nice at the nearby Pizza Hut for lunch.
But without any warning or informing me beforehand, I would turn up in school by myself on the dates we agreed to meet only to find her missing and uncontactable.
Not answering my calls and responding to my texts.
Only hours later would I finally get a call back
Giving me gazillion of different excuses each time
“Oh sorry I overslept”
“Oh sorry I had to run an errand for my mum”
“Oh sorry something really unexpected happened at home and I was caught up…”
Like a fool, my heart softened and forgave her time and time again
Giving in to her sweet talks of bringing me some Indian treats that her mum baked next time as an apology
Which eventually never really happened too
Not without me repeatedly reminding her at least
Her promises to me were broken again and again
What was more broken was my sincere heart
I was really looking forward to that Pizza Hut lunch that she said we would have together
I really craved for that curry baked rice or that creamy baked pasta
But I was disappointed time and time again
That one day when she flew me an aeroplane yet again
I could take it no more
If nobody was gonna eat Pizza Hut with me, I would eat it myself!
I remembered stepping into the restaurant in my school uniform
“Table for 1, please” I said to the waitress
I sat down at the table I was directed to
After a quick look at the menu, I made my order
I looked at the other diners around me, trying hard not to feel awkward with my lonely presence
But bitterness was the more dominant feeling that I had felt
Being abandoned by a friend that gave rise to my first experience of dining alone
Few tears streamed down my face
As I ate my baked rice bite by bite
It tasted really sour in my mouth that day
Since then, eating alone has become more and more of a natural thing to me now
I actually even feel more awkward not eating alone
Although I still do enjoy eating with 1 or 2 friends and with my family
But with bigger groups of not so familiar acquaintances seems like a no-no for me
That intense loneliness and emptiness of being in the company of people I could not connect with is a feeling / situation I would try my best to avoid getting into
I guess most introverts would know that kind of feeling
Not just eating alone, it had evolved to doing other things alone too
Watching a movie at the theatre alone
Going to exhibitions alone
Cycling at a park alone
But that Indian friend was not solely to be blamed for all these loneliness that I had gone through
In fact, throughout my life, especially during my young teenage years
There had been many other friends who had hurt me in similar ways
Kept flaking on our dates
Unable to keep promises
Always had some other friends they’d rather hang out with
Eventually being alone becomes a sort of freedom
A release from being susceptible to perennial hurt from friends
Because I don’t know when they are gonna hurt again if I continue to pin my high expectations on them
Because I’m always with me
I won’t flake on dates with me
Even if I suddenly don’t feel like doing something that was originally planned
I could do other things still with me
I go wherever I go
The most loyal and reliable friend was myself
But nowadays being alone makes me start to feel lonely again
Life starts to feel bland and lack of fun just being by myself
I knew very well from the start since young that I don’t need to have a big bunch of friends
In fact I just need 1.
1 best friend.
A single person whom I can wholeheartedly share my whole world with
But the kind of a perfect best friend I wanted to find seems to elude me all the time
After having been fraught with bad friendship experiences in the past
I admittedly have developed trust issues not just in friends but perhaps in humans in general
I would question
Are you genuine?
Are you sincere?
But that, I suppose, would be another story about myself.