I am not a creature of habit. In fact, being a Gemini, I thrive on change.
But to this one thing I remain true and achingly dull/predictable: My Sunday night date with myself.
While many folks enjoy Sunday family dinners — and don’t get me wrong, I think those are wonderful, important events — those of us who are single (or whose family members live hundreds of miles away) are often left alone at weeks’ end.
I suppose it began as a child. Sunday evenings were for settling down (and Walt Disney) and mentally preparing for school the following week. The atmosphere felt different — less filled with excitement and expectations and more calm, combined with a bit of dread. Although the school week has been replaced with a work week, Sunday nights seem much the same: anticipation, combined with the knowledge that the show must go on!
My Sunday night date with myself is something I look forward to. I am lucky. I have the weekend to grocery shop at local farmers markets in Santa Barbara, California. I can hit a bakery, cheese shop and wine store. My favorite farmer has a produce cart that is open on Sundays, less than a mile from my home. I have made friends with a neighbor who raises chickens and eggs; a bucolic few miles drive away — perfect for a Sunday drive, if she’s receiving.
My menu is often boringly the same: an organic chicken, simply stuffed with garlic and lemons and a red Hawaiian salt and herbs du Provence rub, cradled by onions and potatoes. I drizzle it with olive oil and roast at 375 degrees, which ensures enticing aromas emanating from the kitchen leading up to my feast, in addition to plenty of leftovers for the following week for soups, sandwiches or to add to a pasta dish. If I am feeling especially hungry, I might make a small salad. In the summer, I make it with ingredients from my garden. The last one was a tasty mix of arugula, mushrooms, walnuts and pomegranate seeds.
Like any good date, a pleasant glass of wine is imperative to stimulate one’s appetite. Last Sunday, it was an inky Malbec from Argentina— promoted as a red that “I couldn’t read through.” Previously, I savored a local white wine that had been gifted to me at a charity author’s event I had participated in.
Ever the news junkie, my evening entertainment (or “date”) that accompanies my meal has been predictable for decades: "60 Minutes." I settle down on my bed, turn on the news with my dinner alla solo on a tray. I use a cloth napkin and sometimes even my grandmother’s silver or occasionally one of her crystal wine goblets. Then I watch the world falling apart. But I feel safe and sound. Something to do with consistency, I suppose, combined with the comfort of one’s home.
When the news of the world is over, I usually have some quiet time for contemplation of the week past and the one ahead. Once in awhile I will pay bills (but I try to save that for a weekday so as not to spoil my date with myself). Sometimes. I will call my mother, or an old friend to check in.
Recently, along with the rest of the western world, I tuned into "Downton Abbey" — hello Season Three — to add to my evening entertainment. I love that I'm able to enter the world of family portraits and dine with the landed gentry on their 5,000-acre estate, all from the coziness of my bedroom.
I take a sip of wine and think, oh dear, the estate taxes! Yet, how nice it would be to have a butler to clear my plate and housemaid to polish the silver. I am momentarily transported; until I remember I need to fetch my own wine refill and carry my dishes to the kitchen and, yes, wash and dry and put away.
As a writer on assignment around the globe, I have oft times opted for room service rather than dining alone at a restaurant in the evening. These were unexpected chances to have dates with myself, sometimes with a television program in Portuguese or even a good book or journal. The feeling of comfort dining alone travels well, I have found.
But home is best. Comfort food combined with the dependability of my long running news program and the thought that there is a week of new possibilities ahead, and another Sunday, should fate deem it, keeps me going.
It’s the perfect date — and one that never disappoints.