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A recent Humans of New York post recently got me thinking (as they often do). It showed a man standing with a bouquet of yellow tulips. The photographer asked him who the flowers were for, and he said “Myself.”

I love buying myself flowers. It’s such a sweet treat when my grocery bags have–in addition to milk, chicken, tomatoes, fish, and whatever else–a sunny, mixed bouquet.

I started to buy flowers for myself years ago. I passed the display, and they made me smile. Because flowers tend to do that–make a person smile. I wasn’t dating anyone, and I thought, “Why should I wait for someone to buy me flowers? I can add some cheer to my own kitchen.”

See? Instant mood lifter-upper. And, OK, these were not self-purchased, they were from coworkers when my grandfather died. But still. Cheer in a vase.

Thus, it started. I don’t buy them all the time — just when a bouquet particularly grabs me, or maybe if a friend is coming over, because there is no better kitchen table decor than some daisies.

I shared the HONY post on my Facebook page with the anecdote about buying flowers for oneself. And I wondered, how many people do this?

I know I’ve heard mixed reviews when I’ve shared that I love going to movies alone and that I love eating out alone. Some folks feel that others would look at them strangely or judge them. Some feared the silence that comes with solo outings. Others just couldn’t handle the discomfort of doing a typical “group” thing alone.

But I find eating out alone relaxing. It’s a wonderful time to read, and servers tend to be on their best behavior: attentive, without coming around too much as to be a bother.

The first time I saw a movie alone was right after a breakup. It was a flick I had planned to see with the ex, and I found myself with an evening after work where I did not want to be alone with my thoughts. So I went to see “The Mist.” It immediately took my mind off my own troubles as I became immersed in the story of folks with real troubles–those who found themselves stuck in a grocery store with a religious zealot inside and space monsters from another dimension outside. Oh no, which horror was worse???!!

Cheer! OK, again, from coworkers, when Jeff and I got married last year. Seriously, I have some awesome coworkers.

What it all comes down to is this: Flowers don’t need to come from another person. Dining out doesn’t require another person. A gal doesn’t have to wait to be asked for a movie. It’s perfectly acceptable–and, I say, desirable– for a person to treat himself or herself as nicely as one would a date. It doesn’t make one seem like a loser with no friends, and I promise, I’ve never noticed any weird pitying stares. (And if I did, I gotta say, they wouldn’t bother me a lick.)

But then, I’ve never minded myself as company. My brother wasn’t born until I was 6, so I grew up playing alone. I’ve always found companions in books, or in Barbies, or in coloring books. As an adult, I need solo time to recharge. The best part of my week is Saturday or Sunday morning, when I’ve woken up before Jeff, and I curl up on the couch with coffee or tea and a book or my journal, all with the knowledge that Jeff is curled up in the next room, asleep.

In fact, I’ve never enjoyed the time I spend with myself more than I have as an adult. The first full year I lived in my current hometown, I didn’t date anyone. There was no long-distance boyfriend to visit, no short-distance boyfriend to call up when I was bored on a Tuesday evening. Sure it occasionally got lonely, but more times than not, I enjoyed myself. I watched the movies I wanted to watch; I ate the food I wanted to eat.

Now, truth time: I wouldn’t go back to that for all the money in the world. Jeff has made me happier than I ever thought possible, but a major part of that happiness? We’re both independent people. Yes, we do most things with the other person–because what is a marriage if not the union of two people who enjoy one another’s company?–but we have our own friends, we’re content when the other is busy. We grew up into adults without the other. I find a deep, sweet romance in the stories of high school sweethearts who meet as teens change together, grow up together, become adults together. But there’s something sweet, too, in knowing that two people spent a chunk of their adulthood looking for the other, not settling for anything less-than.

My 31st birthday is April 14, and I took the day off work. I plan to spend the day with myself. I’ll probably go shopping. I might meet a friend on a lunch break, or maybe I’ll go with myself and keep working on the tome that is “Atlas Shrugged.” I might take myself to see a movie. I’ll probably go to dinner with the beau. (The party is the weekend before. A winery and Mexican food is happening all over Saturday night.)

What is your favorite solo activity? If you’re not a fan of any, may I just request: Woo yourself and buy yourself some flowers today.

 

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