as the year ends i , like most folks, like to look back at the events that made up 2011. I had some BIG ones, veritable doozies, life changing happenings and decisions. First, and most importantly, my 3rd child and only daughter was born, Evaishungry…. she is a chunky bundle of baby joy who amazes me daily. she is so different than my two boys and can melt me with a glance. she is healthy and strong and smart and already likes to dance. in a word, she is perfect.
i also made a major decision this spring around the time of Eva’s birth. i left my salaried managerial position to go my own as a smaaaaal restaraunteur. the stress and travel of my old position had finally taken its toll on me. i was miserable and dreaded going to work. it wasn’t the people i worked with or the job itself so much as it was the overall weight of the responsibilities and the time it consumed. i missed soccer games and parties and concerts and even the Family vacation to florida. so, i rented out some space form a dear friend which was already an operating coffee shop/cafe…the reasons i did this are only now really becoming clear, although i could feel them the whole time..Yes, i have wanted to open my own restaurant, as most chefs do, for my own vanity and financial reasons, but its more than that.
If you don’t know, my father and little brother both passed away way too young. My dad was one of the hardest working men i have ever known. he was independent and smart and genuine and kind. he helped people and did his best in tough circumstances. he always worked. i wish i had half of his dedication and perseverance. he was literate and cultured in an occupation where neither are required. i worked for him and always admired both his and my grandfather’s desire and ability to carve their own way and work under their terms. That is a big part of why i feel the need to be a self made man, as they say. I inherited his distaste for authority and answering to others and wish to be even close to a success as he was. he was as busy as a man could be and never due to advertising, but due to his reputation in our town. plus he was a squirelly little booger with a good sense of humor, good taste in music and he never took himself too seriously.
My brother died young from cancer. No way to say and sugar coat it. it ate him up from the inside and when there was nothing left the doctor’s could remove, he died. I know it sounds harsh, and thats because it was harsh. Unfair is the word that comes to mind. he was also a great cook, and like most things he did, he did it with a gusto and flair few possess. he had lived with cancer or the threat of it since he was 15 and that gave him wisdom beyond his years and also allowed him to live life with an attitude that most people are scared of. he didn’t just make dinner. he made a production of it. he knew his time was shorter than most, even in best case scenarios, and he chose to relish the life he had left instead of lamenting the unknown. i have taken some of that logic as my own, albeit to the horror of some close to me. one thing he always wanted to do, was to cook some kind of food for people…he wanted a hot dog cart or a fried chicken joint or a pizza place or something, anything, where he could make people happy and full at the same time.
I think the main reason opening my own place was so important was because my brother couldn’t do it. I felt the need to do what both he, and my dad, are no longer able to.
Unfortunately, I have fallen flat on my chubby face. After 5 months, I turned control of the coffeeshop back to my dear friends as of two days ago. I have lost all the money i put into it, or rather my family helped me put into it, and have wound up in the hole. My relationship with my wife has suffered and i have gotten more depressed as i bled money trying to keep a fool hardy and ill-conceived plan alive and kicking..like most things i do, planning is not my forte…im more of a feet first kind of guy and i tend to either sink or swim once i hit the water. this time i sank and sank fast.
on the bright side, i did make some great new friends and learned a lot about what i truly want to do…truth is, i don’t really know what i want to do..i honestly just feel really, really tired. its tough to admit failure. but i surrender.
All i can do now, is hope for a few things: Good fortune to smile down upon me and my family, maybe a good new job where i can express myself, maybe improved relations with the wife, maybe a renewed sense of clarity and commitment….or maybe that whole 2012 end of the world thing, either way.