What the hell am I gonna do? I feel like I’ve been slapped in the fucking face or something… But by what? A betrayal? The truth? Both?! Damn it, I … Continue reading 5.60: Roadblock
“Hey, Zayne.” Caitlin smiled warmly at him as he crossed over the threshold. “Did you have a good weekend off?” He nodded. “I did, thanks! I got to visit my … Continue reading Interlude: Puppet
I should have known this would happen. I stopped by Greg’s office this morning to try and figure out more about these ‘menu changes’ he’d been talking about. I couldn’t … Continue reading 5.59: Compromise
I really don’t know if I was ready for that. I’m still kinda trying to process everything, I guess. I got totally blindsided at work yesterday… Lots of old shit … Continue reading 5.58: Do Something
“What do you think I should do?” Hmm… Zayne stroked his beard gently as he considered the cook’s question. He was still getting used to being the one everyone in … Continue reading Interlude: Effortless
I never thought it was possible to feel so happy and excited and exhausted all at once… What a day! It’s finally official — The Corner Kitchen is open for … Continue reading 5.57: Open for Business
Y’know, it’s kind of funny how much time can change things. Or change us, I guess.
My Ur-Oma Mari died last week, and I have a few really tough anniversaries coming up. Shittiest timing in the world, right? And I guess it all just has me doing a lot of thinking.
Thinking about time, like I said. And about… Okay, this is gonna make me sound like a weirdo masochist or something… But pain. And how it’s so fleeting, I guess (I bet Dr. Hall would love this one… I’m getting all deep again).
Like, even after all these years, I still remember how much it hurt when my parents died. But my memories of back then are so foggy now… It’s almost like I was watching it happen to someone else. I definitely remember the fact that I was sad and scared and confused about the whole thing… But no matter how hard I try, I can’t really remember what it actually felt like in the moment. Know what I mean?
I guess it’s like when the fire burned my face too. I remember seeing the flames falling toward me. I remember screaming. I remember that it hurt so badly. Probably the worst physical pain I’ve ever felt in my life… Can I remember the actual feeling though? Of course not.
But even if you forget how the pain felt when it was fresh and new, that pain can still leave behind scars.
And those never go away.
So I guess losing Ur-Oma adds a fresh new scar to the collection… And officially makes August the worst month in the entire world. She died on August 1st. My parents died 24 years ago on August 21st. And on the 29th, it’ll be exactly one year since Hope and I broke up.
I guess it’s times like these when I can feel those old wounds starting to flare up again — red and angry and ugly, even after all this time…
I’m trying so hard not to think about any of that though. I saw Dr. Hall yesterday, and he’s helping me try to focus on the good stuff. And I know that’s what Ur-Oma would want right now.
And I mean, I do have something pretty fucking awesome to look forward to — Something that might help break my August curse once and for all…
Just ten more days, and I’ll be co-owner and head chef of my own restaurant. Jesus, even writing it feels surreal!
I mean, I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long… And now that it’s almost here, it just seems too good to be true. I feel like it all happened so fast. Just over eight months since my first meeting with Greg. That seems fast… doesn’t it? Like we maybe rushed things? I dunno.
He says it’s pretty typical. And I guess he knows what he’s doing – he owns half the restaurants in Windenburg! (And a few other businesses too, actually). I guess I’m just a little nervous. None of this is exactly what I’d expected it’d be like, y’know? But he seems pretty confident everything’s gonna work out okay for us.
He loves to make those big dramatic speeches of his about hard work and perseverance paying off and all that crap… But sometimes it feels like empty words. Like he’s just saying that stuff so I’ll stop questioning things. Don’t get me wrong – Greg’s a really nice guy. He can just be… overbearing? And I don’t even think he means to be, really. It’s just who he is.
If I’d tried working with him a year ago, I probably would have bitten his head off and quit by now… And I still have my moments where I want to. It’s still hard for me to deal with people telling me what to do. I can’t help it — There are just times when it still makes me feel like they think I’m weak or something… But I’ve been getting so much better about that, thanks to Dr. Hall.
I’m finally getting what I’ve always dreamed of, and I never would have been able to do it without Greg. And I can’t forget that, no matter how over-the-top he can get sometimes. He’s smart and he’s really driven and he definitely knows business. I’d be totally lost without him. I’m not too proud to admit that.
Sometimes I wonder a little though. I mean, Ur-Oma always had kind of mixed feelings about him. She never met him, but I got to tell her a lot about him. She thought it was great he was helping me too. But she kept saying the same thing over and over again – “Just don’t lose sight of your dream”. I promised her I wouldn’t, obviously. And that’s a promise I intend to keep. Especially now that she’s gone.
Tante Joce and grandpa kinda feel the same, I guess. “Don’t let this be another Denise,” grandpa keeps saying. And the other day when I went over there, Tante Joce brought it up again. “Just promise you’ll stand up for yourself if you have to.”
Of course I will. I’m not the same guy I used to be when I let Denise walk all over me. I know I’m not. Doesn’t Tante Joce see that? Am I still just a helpless little kid in her eyes?
Sometimes it still makes me so mad. I kinda snapped at grandpa about it last week. And I didn’t mean to. I’ve been so much better about losing my temper lately. But I guess we all have bad days, huh?
But I know they mean well. They just want to help. They’re supporting me, just like they always have. And I’m really grateful for that.
Anyway, I’m sure a lot of this is just nerves getting to me. I might not sound like it, but I’m really excited. It’s just a lot to put into words, I guess. And I don’t even think it’s totally hit me yet anyway… It probably won’t until I’m actually standing there on opening day.
And even though I’m scared shitless, I really can’t wait.
It probably makes me sound like an asshole, but I can’t help feeling pretty proud of myself for coming this far. For a while, I never thought it’d happen. I really, truly didn’t. I thought I’d dug myself too deep of a hole to ever climb back out again. But I did it.
And I know I never could have gotten here if I hadn’t gotten so much support. From my family, from my friends, from Greg, from Dr. Hall… And from Hope too.
She’s just been so amazing and supportive, especially since Ur-Oma died. Hope always got along so well with her. I think she really understood just how special she was, y’know? And I think Ur-Oma felt the same way about Hope too.
I still haven’t seen her in person since she left last September. I haven’t even heard the sound of her voice. But ever since she finally texted me at Christmas, we’ve been talking to each other more and more. At least once or twice a week… sometimes even more than that.
It’s taken a long time, but it’s really starting to feel like we’re becoming friends again. And that was something I really thought I’d never be able to say. But I’m so glad I can.
And I’m so, so proud of her. I almost can’t believe how amazing she’s been doing. “Supermodel” is such a cliché term, but… Well, she’s everywhere now. Magazines, billboards, commercials… It’s incredible! This is her dream, and she’s finally living it.
And with any luck, I can say the same in a couple of weeks.
Can I be honest though…?
I’m so happy for both of us right now… But even after all this time, there are still days when it’s just so hard. When it hurts so damn much. When that scar she left starts acting up and the pain comes rushing back all over again.
Don’t get me wrong — I love that we’re finally getting what we’d always dreamed of. I really do.
I just think I’ll always regret that we didn’t reach those dreams together.