Friday, July 29, 2011

letter nineteen


Dear Bar Owner,

i'm writing on this hazy tuesday morning with an equally hazy mind. we've had quite a run of it the past few days and i believe it's now catching up with me. you worked until 6:00 in the morning friday night through saturday so you could make some pocket change building a takeout window at the cambridge bar. i woke a tad early on saturday with many chores in mind that i kept at bay until the hour you woke. the lack of sleep. the worry of what was ahead for us on monday. it was all showing in the puffy lines on your tired face. my poor man. i poured you a glass of juice instructing you to get some nutrients. you left to meet with the guy who rents the pool table and other "amusements" at the bar soon to be ours. i took care of housekeeping to be sure all was in order in our home before i left. tangible cleaning/sorting eases my mind.

we spent saturday night with our friends decked out in a psuedo preppy best for halloween shenanigans. then sunday we met with our attorney. he had the financials spelled out. he had a problem. a large problem it turned out. we worried that the deal would take more time. again. then, monday finally arrived. you didn't want to wake to meet with the current owners to count their inventory. apparently they didn't either. "let's just call it an even exchange." we agree. you return to bed for a snooze before the hour arrives. when i wake you, you ask if we can just not go. i don't want to be without you, you admit. can't we just stay in bed and snuggle.

you are not one to snuggle. although a grand idea, i don't allow for this avoidance. get up. this is the moment you've worked towards. for a decade. let's jump in.

paperwork, close to a foot thick, makes everything final. the issue of the day previous is muted, not gone, but not as costly. you rest your hand on my leg. you're warm, sweaty even. nervous. i hold your hand, patting with reassurance. when we're asked for our licenses, you shuffle your wallet around and sneak a glance at a note i wrote to you on friday morning. you nod at it - keeping it close it seems. this small gesture makes me happy. those simple words do make a difference.

the attorneys wonder about the name of the llc. you explain that it references our pup. the closing attorney says that anyone who names something after their pet is good in her book. talk of our dogs is filler between the itemized list. five pages long.

two-and-a-half hours later, we are outside again. congratulations in our wake. we stare blankly at each other. we do not grasp what we've done. we kid that we don't even know where the light switch is in the bar. we decide to open a p.o. box. then, standing in the post office parking lot, you say, let's just go to city hall now. we're in it. why not go and make it really official. i entertain the idea for the rest of the afternoon. instead of going straight to the bar, we visit our soon-to-be bartender and always friend across the street at the bar she is currently at. she raises her arms in paused cheer until we smile and say YES. we are here to check out the competition. the day regulars cheers with us a celebratory shot. it's blue and fruity. we munch on warm flat bread 'wiches from across the way. mustering up a slight buzz to relieve us of the morning's stress as well as fuel a calm enough to visit our new endeavor.

hours later, we are there, light switches in place illuminating a room filled with friends helping paint away the dirty nicotine white walls with a bright, energizing, warm red. i learn the register with the help of perrya. she kicks into gear making drinks, wiping the coolers, washing glasses. attention to upkeep an indication of how she's waited, like us, for this moment. she's invested somehow too.

hilarious dancing ensues. we marvel at our new identities as "the owners." we close at midnight. cash out. yeah! turn off the lights. perrya hugs us outside. seems to abound with excitement. i love you guys. she's not one to say such admissions. all of us are tired but aglow. i worry about when to return to the city. vow to sleep for a few hours then drive back when it's still dark. you cuddle up to me. this arrangement also new. but, we need this closeness. soon i'll be back in the city, somehow returning to normal when everything is but that.

a deer's shape and glowing eyes will wonder from the road what i'm doing driving at this hour. it's the hour of deer grazing in our area. not of people driving. the road is vacant save for truckers and a few suvs. i try to maintain my usual granny driving but am impatient to return home for more sleep. my throat is scratchy and aids in a raspy singing voice. sing a duet with bonnie raitt. relish the talking heads and ben folds five. scan until i hear jim morrison, your favorite. then, grow teary eyed when the neil young song i want to play at our wedding fills the speakers. i haven't yet mentioned this song to you. yet, every time i hear it, my eyes are wet with the visualization of us dancing at our wedding. of you surprised by my song pick but singing the words into my ear. because i just know it must be familiar to you.

the city still rests beneath a dark sky when i return. the skyline still lit as if in night. i grasp at an hour or so more of sleep then ready for work in our quiet abode. is this how it shall be now? separate? i try not to ponder. i grow weary the closer i maneuver my car to the office. i can't do this much longer, i admit. now that we've made this first step possible, i need to continue. what dream of mine may i bring to fruition now?

i relate the goings on to my office friends. by the fifth retelling, my throat is scratchy. you phone me just to hear my voice. share that the newness/nerves haven't worn off from a night's rest. you want me there with you. me too, sweetheart. we console each other with mention of the day's plans. with comforts of mention that we'll be together at the end of the week. that somehow, we'll make it so we don't have to be apart.

and, just like that, through a pile of paperwork, our days and nights are changed. i'm no longer simply a bartender's lady. i'm now an owner. serving a supporting role to yours. and, somehow, it feels like something i was meant to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

letter eighteen


Dear Bartender,

Four days from now, we'll be in the thick of the planning. Tearing down a ceiling. Tearing up a carpet. Laying down wooden flooring. It's going to be a big, dirty job. And, when all is in place and dusted off, we will have a bar. A bar!

Yesterday I was numb with exciting energy. Today, after telling my office mates and sending an e-mail to my boss about the time off needed, I've passed the climatic point. When you call from a drive in my car, listening to NPR, you begin to rattle off what is on tap for you. A meeting with the accountant moved to Tuesday, after all the numbers are flush...

What's wrong? Why so down? You ask.

I'm bored. Tired. And, frankly, let down. Telecommuting options for work do not seem possible. I want to split the time with you between Poi and the city. I don't want to broaden our opposite schedules. I don't want to be alone THAT much. Yet, I do not have an option. I will remain working in the city and you will be working and living most of the week 60 miles away.

The glow lasted 24 hours. Almost exactly. Now, I'm simply worried. Fret about the negative repercussions. See the week ahead of you not really including my help. I have to wonder now, if all my musings about my role were just a fantasy.

Am I going to be living by myself all week? What will be the point of that?

But, I chalk my tone up to tiredness (true) and boredom (true, true) because these are things I know to be true at this moment. All other worry, notions, wonderment are just that. For now. After the ups and downs since April, I've learned to feel the emotions but to not allow them to take over because they evaporate tomorrow when another course of events takes us on yet another path.


Friday, July 22, 2011

letter seventeen


Dear Bartender,

so, here we are! a week away from our closing. last week, i had planned on spending time in the city. a last hurrah. then, on friday, you mentioned an appointment with the insurance agent on sat morning. wanting to play a part in this planning, wanting to simply be in the know, i cancelled a belated birthday dinner and plans for an early morning yoga class. fri night i celebrated a belated birthday dinner with a dear friend. over polenta strewn with roasted veggies, scallops atop Moroccan spiced veggies, a bibb lettuce salad with autumn flair of apple slices, sugary pecans and sharp cheddar crumbles we caught up about the past month and she shook her head in disbelief that we are *this* close to being bar owners. we cheered the heck out of our ginger beer spiked with scotch and fresh lime juice, to us & them!, to the year ahead!, to our weddings! it dawned on me that, holy shit, we are going to be owners of a bar. our lives will be joined further by this venture. i will no longer be on the sidelines, cheering on my bartender. i'll be on the field with you, planning our plays.

last night, we attended another beer event. i wanted so badly to write, the bitter end on our v.i.p. name tags. soon, however, we will be associated, perhaps even defined, by this bar name. impressions of us will be predetermined when introductions are made. strange.

i am planning to surprise you with business cards. am waiting on our dear friend to amend the logo design and send it to me so i may rush order cards i'll custom make for you. i tried to secretly surprise you, but you are an impatient man. you wonder aloud about when i'm going to make cards for you. three times you ask. i assure you with fake annoyance that i'm working on it. i never let on what that actually means. your title will be head hippie in charge. you beam when i suggest that.

days away. can you believe it?!

let us trail away one last weekend before the world taps on our shoulders. we'll spend time with friends, grooving to your favorite band. the only music that quiets the constant worry and concern of your mind. for three days, we'll let go. we'll visit our old stomping grounds of our alma mater. we'll regress. then, on monday, we'll be adults. officially.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

letter sixteen


Dear Bartender,

we are a bit more than a week away from the closing date. judging by how we're edgy - toward each other - of late, the pressure may be presenting itself. work has been terrible for me this week. although i didn't mention the particulars, when you snapped at me about signing the sba paperwork, and i shot back that i needed to run before i lost it, i suddenly felt like the bonding we'd felt over the past few weeks, had dispersed. the end of the honeymoon? as i dressed in my running garb, in another room, i talked myself off the ledge. returned to kiss you atop your tv watching head and headed out as you claimed that you liked me all fired up - don't go soft on me. the run helped ease my tension, but we were still nudgy. playful. sarcastic. nudgy still.

then, yesterday, when you said that you had to go to mattapoisett to meet with the insurance agent in the morning, regarding the bar, i felt like i should be there too. i had sets of plans to cancel to do so and as i tried to rework my weekend in mind, you took that as me being mopey. then after much prodding about your thoughts, you unleashed.

i had mentioned turning your old bedroom in your dad's house into a photo studio so i could stop carrying my props and book to and fro every weekend. somehow this combined with my supposed moping caused your angst.

at first, i thought you were refraining from sharing your feelings because you were going to tell me to stop being a dreamer. cut out the blog. the photography. the creative goals. live in the reality that if it hasn't happened now then it's not going to.

that's what i thought your reluctance was about.

instead, you broke out in a tirade about how talented i am and how you admire what i can do and how i don't have any confidence in myself. how i don't push for what i want. how i won't stand up for myself. how i'm the strongest person you know but how i don't use that strength to get what i want.

you silenced me.

you spoke the words i've been needing to hear. sleepless nights for two weeks because i feel stuck in a toxic job and now that you're moving ahead, i wonder how i may as well.

soon, i was teary. you brought up my childhood. your childhood. how both were less than stellar and played on our emotions. often. how you've since let go of the past. that you think i'm still holding on to my own.

perhaps you are right. yet, i explained, it's because of the childhood that i strive to become what i was told i couldn't. i was always told what to study. where to go to school. how to drive. how to answer the phone. all that control had the same effect. self-doubt. depression.

you held me close while i explained why i try so hard and how i feel stuck and not living up to my potential. unsure how to move forward. more education? a better camera?

neither of us had the answers. i'm sure that we should.

even though we've been pushing each others' buttons this week, we somehow came back together stronger. yet again.

its our faith in each other. our adoration. our constant challenging. these are the elements that will carry us through what is about to happen.

i told my boss today about the bar. i was nervous. he asked about the wedding and i said that we had something else to focus on right now. and, you know what? he never asked if we'd be moving or if i'd have to leave. the standard questions that everyone else has uttered. he only wondered if we'd rely on the company for any products. we did talk about the barroom and our initial plans for improvement. and, how i don't think we even know what we're really taking on. and he said, that will come round two months in when you look at each other and say, what have we gotten ourselves into. it was the most honest conversation i've ever had with him though. and, perhaps that's because i finally had something to talk about that proves i have more potential than he gives me credit for. either way, it's been quite an interesting 24 hours. i'm still considering your professions. i want to be my most for you. and for me. maybe if this bar encourages writing, then we'll both reach our respective goals from the same source...

we'll have to work and see.

Friday, July 15, 2011

letter fifteen


Dear Bartender,

the past few days have brimmed with social goings on. and, despite feeling the drain of "on the go" I motored on beside you. because, you made a good point. these are lingering moments in this town we've resided in for what seems like ages. soon, we'll no longer be able to do these things. see these people (as much). we must do it now because we can. it's fleeting and you recognize this fact and encourage both of us to sacrifice sleep and time spent mulling over chores and projects so we may enjoy these last moments in this city. in our condo. the place that's been home for over six years.

you feel lovey and feel abnormal feeling so. professing so. i pull into a parking spot and shuffle toward home. someone calls my name. my full name. i turn to see you a little ways ahead. we walk toward each other. perfect timing. returning from work at once. seemingly together. i laugh watching you run toward me with a look of eager surprise. you rattle off our plans for the evening. a walk to our favorite burger pub in spite of potential rainfall. a pit stop at the thirsty scholar to see if your "wednesday night crew" is there. then, dolphins vs. patriots game at our house, surrounded by our local friends. just like old times.

i rush to clear away the workday from my person. shed clothes. refresh with new ones, hair tousle and sneakers for the walk. i head to toss out the recycling while you warn me not to do so. i got it. don't you dare bring it out. the challenge only fuels my want to fulfill this mini-chore before we leave. least i may do. you run after me, collect the pail and we grab items from the pail in unison. you, bottles, cans. me, cardboard and paper bags. shuffle, shuffle. toss, toss. done.

my hands feel grubby. you turn me round and hold me in front of our door. i'm so desperately in love with you. love in your eyes. warms me but also makes me shy. i want to freeze this moment. i also want to be inside, away from prying glances of snooty neighbors. you apologize for being uncharacteristically sweet. i say, please don't stop. you admit to not knowing why you've been feeling this way lately. i acknowledge similar thoughts. wonder aloud if it's because of everything we're committing to do together these days. combined plans. hopes. they must bring us together.

the next day, you agree with this sentiment. hold me in your arms. tired from a night spent late with friends. two nights in a row. my lunch break spent in your arms. solidifying our feelings into something other than words.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

letter fourteen


Dear Bartender,

this past weekend, we attended the new bedford oktoberfest. there was a banner. that banner announced that the bitter end will be opening in october 2010. yes, our bar. opening! although the banner was tucked in a corner, it was there. a soft announcement of sorts. we sipped from craft brews. you hummed sweet nothings in my ear about plans for our future. now that this bar opening is real, with a proposed closing date in a couple of weeks, we're softening up to the idea of the next steps we'll be taking. together.

you repeat often these days that you're doing "all of it" for me. for us. each weekend is spent motoring around poi for home goods to rehab our someday home. with each power wash that removes years of neglect from the surface of this house, you are readying our home. with each coat of stain you spray on with an unruly sprayer from high atop a ladder, we are "this much" closer to making that place our home.

with all of these little big things in motion at the same time, i think we're both starting to calm. warm to the concept of it all happening at once.

grown up time. it is.

you and i fare better with plans in place. now that the reward of the worry and paperwork we've endured since may is coming to a close so the thick work may begin, i feel the realness of it all is maker us happier and contented together. we're slipping from the cusp onto dry ground, bare and ready for our building of the next phase.

and, damn it, i think we're actually ready for all of this, even if we're not quite sure what it's going to be like, taking it on together is bringing out the best in us.

cheers, baby, we're days away now. soon you'll have what you've been working so hard towards for a decade. i look forward to the smile you'll have when working your own business. i know just how that look will be. and soon, i'll no longer have to imagine it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

letter thirteen


Dear Bartender,

do you realize that our potential closing date is also the anniversary date of our engagement when you mentioned oct 7 last night over the phone, you didn't make note of it. in fact, i didn't realize it. i just felt a faint recognition of the date. as if i had something to do that day...then, when i was about to fall to sleep, i remembered. what a fine coincidence, no?

you wonder if we should take off for the vineyard with friends this weekend or if we should attend the Oktoberfest in which our first official mention of opening will be pronounced on a sponsorship banner. it would be a last hurrah of sorts. and, you say, if this closing date is the actual date, well then, we won't be able to go to the vineyard for my birthday as is now the tradition. instead, we'll be pulling up carpet, moving a bar top, feeding hungry friends whose construction know how will be in full effect so we can have a soft opening a few days after.

i fancy the image of us running off to the vineyard. our last boat trip for this season. letting loose for a couple of days before our life's work takes charge. i also wonder if we should be at the festival, spreading the word, rubbing elbows, sipping stouts and pumpkin ales from plastic cups.

i may be excited by the later option. seems a start of something. i am worried, however, that we may need the trip away to clear away residual stress from the process that's worn us both out, but more so you.

i'm torn. but, i think i know what the answer should be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

letter twelve


(this post is more "notes" style)
as we wait for word from our underwriter, we are stuck in the "in between." we travel to hartford and saratoga springs to see phish. nils leaves before me. departs after i do. he is relaxed for the first time in months. although the beer flows freely, a perk of magic hat friends, we both maintain an even flow of buzzed calm. the music tends to the distraction of mind. concerned only by where to eat late lunches, what to drink once at the venue and where to land our crew while guessing the set list. high fives when one of us "calls it." intent staring at the stage and swaying loose bodies when we're surprised by a not often played tune. we walk. we talk. we sneak in a kiss or hug when due. we laugh until abs sore. we must add depth to facial laugh lines. we do as we normally do. all the while, we wonder how much our lives are to change with a simple sign off of approval.

perrya and i concern ourselves with drink recipes on the ride up. i break in a new notebook, scribbling confidential and top secret on the first page. as billy drives and talks on his cell, we devise the possibilities for cocktails, infusions, theme drinks, names -- all the while looking forward to the chemistry session of shaking them into fruition. what will the crowd like? who will we attract with a bellini? a berry-driven mojito. two cans of bud and a shot from the well.

somehow the thought process comes naturally. sure, i've worked in bars and restaurants. heard many stories from nils and friends. yet, this is a side of the business i haven't been privy to. the planning. yet, the impressions scatter forth too rapidly for me to capture with neat penmanship. the red sharpie caresses a few pages with our stream of boozeness. i take a photo with my phone and text it to nils. see, we're working...the message never goes through. yet, as if he had rec'd it, he sends me a picture of the hefty cobb salad he's about to rearrange with a hungry fork. later we muse about the timing of these photos given he never rec'd mine.

Friday, July 1, 2011

letter eleven


Dear Bartender,

still waiting....still waiting...cue the appropriate song...

more papers were signed this weekend. the edge of signing these documents was somewhat curbed by doing so at our attorney's home. the meaning of the signing, however, was not dampened by the location. the pens clicked all the same as they would have elsewhere while we signed our names here, here, initialed there and there. the breakdown of everything. the projection of the next five-to-ten years. it's all so real.

after the signing session, papers are stowed and discussion covers the rumors around town of how we apparently already own the bar and whom we've hired, etc. etc., the improvements you plan to make in four days before a soft opening. are we just weeks away from closing now? nothing is set quite yet. appraisal is still needed. please may it schedule for this week.

this moment is so very strange. we must plan for the beginning without the excitement of doing so. nothing is set. yet, everything must be ready at a signature's notice to begin.

renovations. drink list. interior improvements. tap line installation.

i see the weight of it all bearing down on you. the stress of the process is a norm. but, the terror of making this move, taking on this responsibility without the confirmation of knowing it's all going to turn out as you plan, well fine sir, that's plaguing your mind now. after viewing those numbers, and viewing your worried eyes, it's my burden too.

I've never shared such an immense burden with you. a burden that you strive to hold solely upon your person. your thoughts. your hopes.

sure, I'm beside you. we write the business plan. we discuss the theme, drinks, um, everything. even so, this is your business, your next step, your decade's worth of experience being tested. I'm a partner, but not the one giving birth to this business.

i find myself caressing your face more these days. taking your hand. offering comfort to sway those worry lines elsewhere. but the reality is thick and you refuse to be distracted. and, babe, it's this intense focus that has gotten you this far. and it will carry you forward toward success. fear is in the idea of failure. would be failing yourself more, however, if you stayed where you are despising your daily grind?

being here is an accomplishment in itself. i hope, someday, that you may realize this. you are too far ahead in will and mind right now to see. i perhaps i see for you. so i may tell you so. someday.

your girl