When was the last time you just sat? And did nothing?
For me, it was Sunday night, two nights ago. Before that, I can’t recall. Maybe 2016? 2015?
I was sitting at the bar of a restaurant, Hearth, in the East Village, waiting for Eric to join me for a casual birthday dinner. I sat down, ordered a glass of sparkling wine, and then decided not to take out my phone. Or look at my watch (which has the same distraction capabilities as a phone). Or take out my planner. Or a book. Or write anything down. I just sat. It felt like one unending giant sigh of relief.
I stared at all of the different bottles of alcohol clumped together on the bar shelves. Mezcal. I tried to remember what Mezcal was. White agave? Regular agave? I noticed a bunch of Erlenmeyer flasks of assorted sizes sitting on the bar. “Do you use those?” I asked the bartender. “Yes, as wine decanters,” she told me, because not only do they provide a large surface area, but she always knows how much wine she has left. I’ve never seen functioning Erlenmeyer flasks at a bar. Possibly because I’ve never looked.
“Is that the rosé?”, an older man two bar seats down from me asked. “Yes, it’s delicious,” I said. The man surveyed the two cocktails in front of him. “It’s going to be quite a night!” he said. He was there with his wife. They were in from Connecticut, visiting their son who lived nearby.
When we sat down at our table, we noticed an antique-y metal box on our table, on every table. The metal box had a sign on it, “Open me!”. “A Faraday cage!” Eric said, eyes lit up. Inside, the box said, “We’d like to invite you to ‘unplug’ during your meal here at Hearth. Feel free to use this box to put your phone away and connect with your fellow diners.”
We didn’t fully unplug — I can’t really when the kids are with a babysitter. But I’m grateful for that time at the bar when I just sat. Had I been reading or writing or phoning or watching I wouldn’t have learned about Erlenmeyer flasks as decanters, talked to two new people, or just felt the elongating sensation of a true pause in daily life.