Thursday, March 17, 2011

letter three


Dear Bartender,

On Monday, you returned from Mattapoisett. So much marked off on your List. Most regarding the boat. Her launch is a week away and your joy rests just below the few lines left to check off. Days away from the waves. Your only stress release.

I made sure to be home soon after work let out. I wanted to serve a meal for your return. To bake a full blown lasagna, thick with ground turkey and chuck, and seasoned ricotta cheese. Our baking dishes are slight. Sauce and cheese bubbled all too near the edges. There was much meat leftover. Just as I was storing it in a dish, I recalled a bag of frozen sweet corn kernels, an opened box of beef broth and a couple handfuls of cooked wheat spaghetti leftover from the scrumptious chicken parm you tossed together late last week. Soon a pot was warming these tidbits together as well as onion slivers and a heavy handed seasoning sprinkled from the secret spice blend.

You called, delayed in traffic. I assured you not to worry. Your timing would be perfect. And, it was. You walked through the door just as the lasagna began to rest. Calm its puffiness. We noshed on half-bowls of the mishmash soup after I shooed you away from a too hot tasting direct from the pot.

I perched on the granite counter top with bowl in hand, turned toward you on the other side of the bar top, freshly showered, balancing your checkbook. Soon we were discussing the business plan we needed to flesh out. We started to plan the vibe of the bar. What did we want exactly? That moment was when it first felt REAL.

That was also the moment I scribbled down the soup's recipe, wanting to seal it in mind forever. The soup that came together on a whim. The soup that we nibbled at pensively while discussing this phantom business. A business that could take over our lives. As I had spent a late night filling out the business plan outline, I felt confident that we could write the first draft quickly. Assured you of the same.

We settled into the Monday night norm. Eating by the television. Watching Seinfeld's 10 year part 2 recap. All seemed usual. Until, the notion of the plan nagged at the back of my mind as I began to feel too comfortable settling into the couch's deep leather cushions after a couple gooey squares of lasagna devoured.

We need to write this thing. A matter of fact you shared while lounging. Asked if I'd get it started then you'd be over.

I'm not sure if you're aware. Aware that writing the plan---contemplating the phrasing, typing quickly to capture our thoughts in unison---all of it, delighted me. I'm beginning to see the role I'll play in this act. Up until this point, I wasn't sure. I've been a bystander for so long. The girlfriend. The life outside the bar. Now, I'm supposed to play a supporting role. It's new.

Somehow, I CAN do this thing. Write this plan. You knew before I did. You banked on that. Sure, we nipped at each other a couple of times. I was tired from daily computer overload. My eyes losing focus after a certain hour. Well, I have the next 40 years to work on this, you remark. Knowing stress is the factor at play, I grab your face and kiss you. Rub your beard. Bring us back from the depths. Console us both. Somehow.

Type, talk, pause. Type.

A few hours later, after many turns of phrase, financial calculations, quick attempts to summarize the atmosphere, food, competition in just sentences not extensive paragraphs, we're spent. The first draft is complete. We both head to sleep shortly thereafter.

Today, you are traveling south to meet with an adviser from the small business association. I know you dread the drive. That's many miles to travel in a day, before your shift, and after working until 2:30 AM. It's much to take on. I try to soothe your annoyance/concern/burnout by stating that it's one step closer to what you're striving for. Soon, you'll have a business and that space will fill your days. Worth it?

This morning, I made sure to leave a sticky note on the mirror, wishing you luck. I poured cold water into a thermos and sat a Kashi bar next to it, knowing too well that nourishment would be furthest from your mind during a hasty day. You're meeting with the adviser to discuss the business plan we wrote (in a single night!). Pat on the ole back.

What will today's meeting bring? And, is there comfort found in the trinkets I leave behind. I want to be on the road with you. Be by your side as the strategy continues. I think you'd feel better for it. But, I have my own workday to contend with and I can't escape it. The only way I know how to show you that I am thinking about it all too, is by these minute actions. Do they help?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

letter two


Dear Bartender,

You were upset yesterday. Despite being together over the holiday weekend, I think we both were feeling an awkward distance from each other. Sometimes when you're working on the boat---sanding dusty bits into the air, muffling your hearing and speech with the sander's scream and a face filter mask---I let you be on your way.

I know how much you detest this portion of the boat work. I stay away so as not to be a distraction. This wooden boat, in so many ways, makes me feel inadequate. Yes, we've discussed this lacking on my part, but I don't think you can fully grasp just how much so. All of this---the rehabbing, the handiwork, the art, the driving---all of it is foreign to me. Yes, I want to learn. But, you're in a rush to get your beauty back on the water and you don't have time to teach me. Right now, that is. Please don't see my apprehension and care of your attention and need as dislike or nonchalance. I simply am ignorant of this pursuit and need many years to get at it. You've had a lifetime. A lifetime. I'll get there.


On top of that stress, you are amid this bar business. You woke to meet with the bank rep to fill out a commercial loan. I should have gone with you. Then, you wouldn't have shook your head in my direction later that day when I returned to the boat shed after spending the afternoon with a friend. You wouldn't have turned your head when I asked what's the matter. You wouldn't have had to admit that you feel alone in all of these pursuits so what's the point of any of it.

You remark: How is the business plan going? Meaning why wasn't I at the house writing the plan instead of being out with a friend. Honestly, I don't know what this bar business has in store for us. I'm not a player in that business each day. You are. I'm a bystander. A confidant. Not a participant. You rush away before I have time to answer. Before I may explain my hesitation about starting the plan without you near to coach. Because of my self doubt, your comment runs deep. I had trusted that we'd find time to build the plan together before the due date.

I listen to your rattling engine trail away. I curse my doubt. I sit upon the cooler in the back of the boat shed and hold my hands over my agonizing face.

I wonder...How may I write about a business I don't know? How have we gotten to this point? We are both scared of what's to come. The weight of the responsibility is taking over.


If we hadn't had the spat in the boat shed I wouldn't have found the need to drag you for a walk on the beach. To reconnect. No distractions. We talk. Finally. Linked arms. Pink sunset on the water. Calm. We share doubt. Unknowing. We sit upon the bench you built six years ago and marvel at what may be ahead. You spew forth plans of renovations. Quick renovations. Your words flutter sketches upon the sand and sky. Each page flips to a new update of the bar room in my mind. Heightened ceilings. New windows. Bar-top move. Outdoor lighting. New sign. New name.

You emphasize the need for the business plan write up this week. No later than Thursday. My Timberland boots crush shells and I tell you to give me thirty minutes of your time detailing your/our imaginings. Then I'll write. Writing. That, my dear, I can do.

Then I try to imagine myself behind the bar when we visit the spot on Saturday night. I catch sight of you scanning the room. See those wheels turning. When the glaze of thought and planning lifts, you catch my sight and smile.


You ask me how others are satisfied with the mundane. The everyday. Never striving for more. I don't know. I'm trying not to let go of that myself. Especially, since you're not as well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

letter one

Okay, here it goes...I have a secret. It shall not be a secret for much longer though. Right now. This very moment. The secret is broken.

I have been writing letters to The Bartender since before the bar was purchased. I never told him. I wrote them as e-mails and sent them to myself immediately after signing my name. I didn't want to edit them. Typos, fragments, capitalization --- none of it mattered. The point of these letters was to capture the moment. Freeze in time the emotions I was feeling while embarking on this crazy process. My hopes, fears, excitement --- all of it. I knew that when the stress subsided (still not sure when that will be!) we would not reflect upon these times with the same edge of emotion. We would have survived those moments and because of that satisfaction, we'd grow from the knowledge as well as cast away the residual worry and woes. That's the wonderful side-effect of time, no?

I've thought about when I should break these words free from their Gmail folder. When would be the opportune time to share with you as well as The Bartender all that's been in mind since last April. Yes, last April. I can't believe it has been that long.

Today, I decided it was the time to begin sharing. The Bartender has worked himself to the bone and now he's bedridden with a sour back and hip. His body is rejecting the pace of his schedule and he's been forced into a comfy hiatus.

Also, to be blunt, there's too much going, and the only time I may write anything is in these letters. Yes, I'm still keeping them. Wrote one just today, in fact. So, for those of you who have asked me when I'm posting next, and others who have said that you enjoy reading this site more than my food/wine site these days, here you go.

And, Bartender, if you're reading, this one's for you.

Letter One: 4.1.10

Dear Bartender,

I'm writing to you, not knowing when or if I'll even share this letter. I suppose, since I'm sitting down to type to you, on this Friday night instead of watching television, reading, blogging or knitting, well, I suppose I hope to show this letter to you someday. When, I know not. I have decided, however, to type to you instead of handwrite this note in a journal. My writing gets illegible the more thought and feeling and rush I put into it. What a shame it'd be for you not to understand words meant for you because of a light stroke heavy with too much feeling. Now, on to the reason for this impulsive note...

There's been a shift of late. I know many factors and their occurring simultaneously are causing this shift. It will not be ignored. We are amid our annual sobriety month --- two weeks in to be exact. We have three weeks remaining, since you vowed to not take on the drink again until Vintage (our boat) is in the water on May 8.

During this time, I've allowed myself to slow down. Yoga clears my mind and body. And, I'm noticing that my practice is aiding in this stillness. I feel at a crossroads of sorts. Whether it’s because of age or general feeling of midway existence, I've felt so rushed these last two years to accomplish, accomplish, decide. I witness others gain so quickly what I aspire to, and the more success I witness, the more let down I feel. I've been so down on me. There's much I want and often I literally am turning round and round in different directions between projects of interest. I've been spiraling.

In two short weeks, I've stopped this self doubt. I've realized that we can't force our dreams upon ourselves. And, I'm feeling much better for it. I'm scared that I won't be what I hope to. As a woman. A mother. A daughter. A partner. A friend. A writer. I'm tired of trying to discover with keen awareness each and every one of these paths at once. Since, I've been able to enjoy reading a chapter from any book I choose, right before bed. I lay on your side to keep an eye on the door and keep the spot heated for you. I practice yoga to tone from the innermost everything of me outward. Hope that you'll begin to notice the changes. Try to have a smile for you when I arrive home from work so our small time together may reflect that you've been on my mind despite a shitty day at work. Call friends and family more. Send trinkets of appreciation their way.

And, simply listen. Listen to myself. Listen to the changes in it all.

I think there may be big changes coming for us. Maybe a bar?

The idea of you owning your own bar, finally, both ignites my happiness for you while also terrifying me. I know you're thinking: Yeah, I knoooow all about that. As every day brings us closer to what may be, and we strategize reeling in our spending, writing the business plan, inventorying the existing business, readying the boat for another summer, wondering where we may live, who will rent our current home and where we'll store all of this STUFF, the shift clicks one more notch in a new direction.

I feel older. I acknowledge today that we've been living responsibly yet easily carelessly. Traveling. Spending. Enjoying.

I also feel so young. Do you even realize what you've achieved at our age? I mean, really, stop and please notice that. Just that. And, now we're hoping to take on another mountain. Hoping that on the other side is the grown-up life we are drafting.

Tonight, I realized that I want to write to you during these times. I don't want to forget all of these fluttering emotions and passing moments. I remember when my parents were our age. They seemed so adult. And, they were also building a difficult path toward a more comfortable future. I remember ascending the stairs of our second home in Mass to let my dad know that dinner was ready. He was huddled on his bed, behind a closed door, making cold calls for potential clients. I'd knock, crack open the door until we caught eyes then sign that dinner was ready by pointing my index finger toward my open mouth. I remember eating lots of dinners where white rice was the filler. I remember the sheet that shielded our stairway to keep the warm air upstairs. I remember lots of visits to the park to feed geese and fly kites. All was simple. And, I’m fond of those times.

Slowing down. Speeding up. This is quite a ride so far. I know we have struggles ahead. I don't have any answers. I am scared. I am curious. I am excited. All feels more meaningful.

I do know how to soothe your mind. I do know how to help you write the business plan. I do know when to press kisses into the frown wrinkling your forehead. I do know that we are in this side-by-side. I hope that this newfound peace inside will guide me toward being your strength. I want so much for us, the kids who grew up too early.

I want those days of waves and sunshine for you --- gardening, cooking, and writing for me. I suppose we have to earn it.

All. In. Time.