Table for One

I’m basking in the afterglow of last night over this morning’s coffee. It was so luscious that it seems like it must be a dream. Fortunately for me, it was very real indeed.

I was in an on-again off-again relationship for over four years. There were many good things in the relationship, which is why it lasted so long. There were many shortfalls, which is why it was never quite stable and finally ended. I have witnessed that the best relationships have their good things and their shortfalls. Our relationship could have been one of those, but it wasn’t.

Which leads to the point of my writing: ending that relationship presented a beginning. The beginning of my beginning is building an even better relationship with myself.

For me, realizations tend to present themselves as opportunities to deepen understanding. I again realized that I have been waiting for someone who will notice that I am valuable, see my worth, and treat me as special. My deepening realization is that it is my responsibility to be that someone. Deepening my relationship with myself will allow me to deepen relationships with others. Appreciating myself more fully will evoke deeper appreciation from others.

When I put the power outside of me, waiting for others to proclaim my special-ness, I actually deny my own worth. If I’m not valuable enough to treat myself as valuable (waiting), why should anyone else? Ugh. Perhaps I’ll get into the ways those habits and beliefs form on another day. Today I’m focused on changing them!

Working with Life Coach Carter Robinson, I made a commitment to begin dating myself. My dates have to be special, the kind that I have been wishing and waiting for.

I spent most of yesterday arguing with myself. My inner knowing said that last night was the night. My scared-to-defy-conditioning self was doing everything she could to derail the process. By 5 p.m. I had gotten as far as finding a list of Fort Lauderdale’s best restaurants. The Manifesting Diva™ hard at play, I found a USA Today Top 10 Restaurants farm-to-table establishment less than 10 minutes from my house! Oh, joy!

At 5:30, I called ahead to check out the situation. Having been in the hospitality industry years ago, I understood the revenue-drop that a table-for-one creates during prime time. Kenneth graciously let me know that there were no reservations available until 9 p.m., but seating in the bar would be open and the full menu would be available. I committed to arrive before happy hour ended at seven, then let the scared one logic me into a pre-dinner run (I mean, really, who wants to run after a gourmet meal, right??? Am I right??? I’m right, right???? <— Scared selves are so silly.)

By the time I finished my run, I had nearly talked myself out of going at all. Sunday seemed like a much better option. Intuition was still insisting that today’s the day, so I sat the scared one in time-out and went about getting ready. She pointed out that my legs needed sugaring and my nail polish was chipped, not appropriate for a high-dollar establishment. I assured her that no one would notice my legs, and managed a quick removal of the polish. (When she’s right, she’s right.)

I made getting ready for my date all about me, picking out a favorite dress, eschewing makeup for the feel of fresh skin, and taking the time to blow-dry my hair into soft, face-framing curls. I felt good. I looked good. I was ready for this. The scared one was remembering a few decades back to the first time we’d ever done this… Dear God, please don’t let the mama with the Bette Midler voice show up and loudly, repeatedly, try to force her son to sit with ‘That poor girl all by herself over there!’ In true Manifesting Diva form, the thought manifested the thing and she showed up, though not as loudly this time. A sotto voce reference to ‘that girl all by herself,’ evoked a private smile and chuckle at the irony.

Parker, one of the brilliant bartenders, assisted with the wine list. I described what I preferred for the evening, and was delighted that his first suggestion was astonishingly accurate! I enjoyed a crisp, dry-but-not-too-dry, flavorful, full-mouthed Kerner. I love discovering new wine favorites and will definitely be having that again!

At my table for one, Bobby was attentive without hovering, knowledgable, helpful, and obviously delighted with my enjoyment. I had a yen for seafood. Bobby eloquently described the selections. I settled on Baharat Spiced Royal Red Shrimp with Almond Chickpea Falafels, Lemon Compressed Zucchini Salad, Sherry Currants, Pickled Carrots, and Tahini Espuma. What arrived at my table is possibly the best meal I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

Royal red shrimp are very similar in taste and texture to lobster, rich and gently sweet, not salty like regular shrimp. Notes of cumin continued to pique my palate throughout the entire dish. The presentation was not just beautiful to the eyes, it kept my palate entertained throughout the meal. The flavorful mix was erotic! The occasional hint of sweet, tang of sour, even a pinch of fresh ginger offered delight in every bite. Too often, dishes lose their vibrancy after the first four or five bites; this dish defied that pattern to the last morsel.

The salad, adorned with currants, carrots, and dressed with Tahini Espuma, provided a bed for the shrimp. Microgreens generously sprinkled atop, created a peek-a-boo effect. Falafels graced the corners of the display.

Every bite was an event, every mouthful worth taking the time to slowly chew, taste, savor, enjoy. The food was so delicious that I couldn’t disturb it with wine, choosing instead to sip hot water between bites to more fully experience the flavors. The sherried currants lent perfect sweetness without overpowering. The pickled carrots gave pucker. There wasn’t one bite that was anything less than a thrill.

Bobby noted my obvious enjoyment. “Welcome home,” his apropos response. I’ve dined coast to coast and internationally, and it’s not often that a meal is better than my own cooking. My efforts pale to rank amateur in comparison to what I experienced last night.

I recalled an old friend’s habit of building a ‘dessert bite’ to end the meal. It was nearly impossible to choose! The falafel was perfectly crisp on the outside, while being both delicate and robust on the inside. Even as the dish cooled, the shrimp remained crisp on the edges, cooked to perfection with seasonings that created what I can only describe as multiple food-gasms.

An experience. Truly, this was an experience worth having. I’m so grateful that my inner knowing was persistent, and that I chose to quiet the scared one. (There’s a tiny voice agreeing in the background, in case you were wondering.)

I share my experience and my ode to Market 17 as an invitation for you to experience this amazing restaurant for yourself and/or to create a similar experience for your own self-care. You are worth it. You always have been and you always will be.

I’d love to read how you romance yourself in the comments below.

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