Tonight, I did something that absolutely terrifies me. I went out, in New York City, by myself.

Let me back up a bit. About a week ago, @amandapalmer hosted a discussion on twitter about going out alone. People were all over the spectrum, from “I’ve found some of my best friends by going out to events alone” to “movies, yes, dinner, no” to “I don’t go anywhere without my wubbie and at least ten friends.” But it got me thinking that it’s been forever since I’ve really gone out anywhere alone. I’ve been with my husband so long that if he’s not around, I don’t go out.

So tonight I decided to do something different. I found a 1920’s themed event going on at a bar in midtown and went.

Actually, that’s not quite true. I got all dressed up to go to the party at the bar in midtown. Then, about five minutes after I left my house, I got cold feet and went to the neighborhood bar instead. Where I sat at the bar with a glass of wine and nobody to talk to, feeling rather lonely, and decided I would got back to the house when my glass of wine was empty. And I would have, but then the bartender asked me where I was going, since I was obviously dressed for something, and I told her there was this jazz party, and her eyes lit up light I had the most exciting plans ever.

So I left the neighborhood bar and headed for the subway that would take me to the bar where the jazz party was, half intending to turn around and go back home the whole time, until I found myself at the subway. And even once I’d gotten on the subway, even once I’d found the bar where the party was, I was still tempted to go back home … worried that I wasn’t dressed right, that I wouldn’t find anybody to talk to, that I’d stand in a corner and feel silly.

As I was walking down the steps to the bar, though, a girl having a cigarette asked if I would bring a candle back in to the hostess. And said she loved my dress. And that with the candle I looked like the statue of liberty. And I thought to myself, this might be a good idea after all.

Which feeling lasted precisely until I got down the stairs and into the bar, where I saw that girl taking the cover charge had a pile of cash and no credit card reader. “Do you take cards?” I asked her.

“I think so,” she said. “Let me check with the guy who’s running this. I think he has the swipe thing.”

But he didn’t, and I, having transferred only a credit card and my drivers license to my going-out purse, had no cash and no way to get any. I sighed, and said thank you and I’m sorry and I should have brought cash. Then a remarkable thing happened. A random guy stepped up and said, “I’ll pay your cover charge.” And the girl collecting the money said, “I’ll pay half.”

So he paid my cover charge, and I bought him a drink, and then I met some really interesting people. Nobody asked for my number or asked to buy me a drink or asked me to go home with them. It was the New York I’d always wanted to be a part of, the New York I was sure was out there somewhere. It was, for the first time, my New York.