Dark night, bright parlor, long line. I step in and take my place behind all the couples and families. I am the only one here alone.

Flavors are handwritten on a chalkboard behind the counter. I scan the list, pick two I want to try, and then settle in for the wait. My hands are too full to check email, Twitter, or Facebook, like everyone else is doing. So I default to people-watching and eavesdropping. Common pastimes for a writer.

The girls behind me are trying water yoga tomorrow. One of them can’t swim. Another one is named Avery, and she has the best hair. Wavy and blonde, with a braid framing one side. All of them are stylish and thin, somehow managing to look both hipster and preppy at the same time.

There are a lot of maxi dresses in here.

It’s been a long day, but I’m avoiding my hotel room. I’d thought it would be wonderful to have a clean, quiet space to myself. Somewhere new but predictable. Somewhere without responsibilities.

Instead it feels lonely.

After checking in, I escaped to dinner. I chose a place that I had been to once before, years ago, with people I loved. But even the memories of them aren’t enough to keep me company tonight. I text one and call the other. It helps.

Finally it’s my turn, and I ask for wildberry lavender and “Buckeye State.” I like complementing fruity flavors with chocolate. When the cashier hands me the receipt, I accidentally sign in the wrong place. I feel like an idiot, but she just laughs. It’s a good reminder to find the humor in things.

10 responses to “Ice cream in Nashville”

  1. Browsing the Atlas Avatar

    You describe the loneliness so well. I’ve had moments/days like this, when I’d hoped for solitude but got loneliness instead.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Oh man, I have a whole new understanding and sympathy for business travel, particularly solo trips.

  2. Shari Avatar

    It’s gotta be tough, flying solo on a trip away from home. I’m glad you’re in such a friendly place, at least. Nashville always seems so warm and welcoming!

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Warm, for sure. It was in the 90s while I was there! Thank goodness I spent most of my time indoors at a nice cool conference, lol.

  3. Elissa J. Hoole Avatar

    It can be kind of a tricky balance between solitude and loneliness! People-watching is always the solution. Also for whatever reason, I always get flustered around the act of dealing with credit card purchasing. I am so grateful when the cashier walks me through all the buttons to push on the self-serve ones because they’re all different. And then to have a conversation on top of it all? LOL.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      I rarely feel lonely, so it definitely took me by surprise when I found myself on that side of the fine line. Glad to know I stumbled upon the correct cure. ;)

  4. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    I hope the rest of your trip wasn’t so lonely!

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Thanks! To be clear, I wasn’t sad, but still, the trip did get better. :)

  5. Natalia Sylvester (@NataliaSylv) Avatar

    Beautifully-written. I could really relate to this, and found it especially interesting that you couldn’t check your phone, which I think is something we tend to default to in order to avoid moments of loneliness (or at least, to feel like we’re less lonely). But instead you chose to observe the world around you, and soak in the moment, even if it wasn’t the happiest one to feel. I still think it’s worthy, though…to feel rather than to avoid.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      You’re right: I think people use devices to mask or stave off loneliness! And you’re also right that sometimes we need to feel even the less pleasant things in life, rather than avoid them. :)