Today after hanging up my usual call with my mom I perched on the edge of my sofa, phone still held loosely in one hand, with every intention of getting up to wash the dishes and tidy my apartment before calling it an early night. However, I didn’t get up. I stayed there, just as I was, for a solid ten minutes in total silence. I didn’t thumb through my phone for my Pandora Radio. I didn’t scroll through Facebook or Youtube. I didn’t flip open one of the books on my coffee table. I didn’t even start talking to myself as I’m prone to do when my apartment falls silent.
I simply sat, staring absently at the opposite wall, listening to the garbled female voices of my neighbors across the hall as they shared the latest juicy gossip. I have no idea what they were talking about but it sure sounded important. The noise of car doors slamming in the parking lot seeped through my closed windows. The world beyond my comfy little box was muffled and for the briefest of moments I actually considered crossing the hall to knock on my neighbors’ door and ask if they might have room for one more in their emphatic conversation.
This strange, quiet reflection led me to one resounding conclusion. I desperately need to have plans this weekend. I don’t mean the usual errands. I need to go be with people. I need to interact with the world beyond conference calls and grocery store check-out lines. Therefore, I am hereby reinstating date night and highly recommend it for anyone feeling similarly isolated. Go out and be in the world even if you have no one to go with and you’re just ordering for one. You’ll thank yourself later.
In this world of perpetual distance and conference calls, the boundaries between work and play and all the other miscellaneous pieces of life have blurred together. It’s difficult to settle into a routine when there are no events to mark on the calendar and no weekly rotation of activities. This nowhere to go and no one to see mentality can lead to a general lack of urgency and efficiency in nearly all other tasks.
In an attempt to keep myself on track, I’ve started planning regular date nights once every couple of weeks and I highly recommend it. This absolutely does not mean that you must find a person or a group to hang out with. Rather, find ways to enjoy yourself and your own company regardless of who else might be there, preferably ones that take you outside of your cozy home for a few hours. Here are a few date night ideas that can be shared with a group or enjoyed as a solo experience.
Picnic in the park – If you’re taking the time to hunt down the perfect picnic spot make sure you pack something you’ll enjoy, fresh pasta salad or a loaded sandwich from your local deli. Take your time. Savor every bite and the feeling of the open air.
Live Music – While many venues are still closed, some outdoor summer concerts have started dotting the calendar once again. Make sure you know how and when to buy tickets. With social distancing requirements they go very quickly. Arrive early with a book and your most comfortable lawn chair and enjoy the show.
Take a hike – You will never regret this for so many reasons. Hikers tend to be some of the happiest and most friendly. Don’t be shy to wave at those you come across along the trail and make sure to always have your camera at the ready. Nature is incredibly photogenic.
Sunbath – Go park yourself on the beach, again with your favorite lawn chair and a good book, and bury your toes in the sand. Sit back and listen to the waves crash against the shore. Even if you don’t have a beach where you live, set aside some time to soak up the Sun, with plenty of sunscreen of course.
Dinner out (or stay in and cook) – The point of this exercise is to relax and recharge. Whether you are a home chef or not, make a night of it. Pick something special and stop worrying about what others might think about you showing up to dinner for a party of one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your own company.