Friday, June 24, 2011

Goodbye, Stuff.

As I sit here and watch the past five years of my life being hauled out the side door and loaded into big trucks, I don’t feel…anything. Well, that’s not precisely true. I feel embarrassment. The place is filthy. Not remotely in a condition that I would have liked anyone to think I tolerated my establishment. But five years of trying to run the place perpetually understaffed and overworked, with no time or energy to do the “extra cleaning” myself, and employees that we were lucky to have deign to show up for their shifts, much less put out any extra effort in the direction of more than the minimum required, have left the place looking pretty sad. Once all the equipment is out of here, I’ll be left staring at spotted walls and scummy floors. My final obligation will be to try to restore them to some semblance of acceptable before turning over my keys on the last day of June.

But melancholy, or regret about the way things turned out? Not really. It was such an endless slog, and I worked so hard and got so nowhere in 59 months that I feel absolutely no sadness as the equipment goes rolling out the door. It’s like each piece gone is one less link in the chain that kept me bound in slavery. I can only think of it in terms of the dollars that will be going back into my bank account in exchange. And then I will be able to pay off the rest of my obligations and have done with the experience for good.

Only one debt—the small second mortgage we took out on our house—will follow us beyond the doors of the cafe. We’ll have to cough up $400 a month, for roughly -ever, in exchange for the opportunity to “live the dream.” I don’t know. Many people pay a lot more than $45,000 for higher education. In fact, I would have been out more than that if I had chosen to go to culinary school. And with my chef school diploma in my hand, I would not have possessed one hundredth of the valuable (though hard-earned) experience I have under my belt as I walk away from five years of running my own business.

I did have one moment, as I pulled my artwork off the walls in the “back corner,” when a mist of tears threatened to undo me. I put myself in “don’t-think-about-it” mode, and the tears dried up almost immediately. Honestly, I don’t know why that one action bothered me. Maybe because I wish the whole experience had been more about playing with pretty things than busting my butt, working like a sweat-hog, and waiting for the next round of manure to contact the oscillator.

Eight days from today—after the last of the grease has been scraped off the kitchen floor, and the last spot of marinara has been scrubbed off the wall behind where the food warmer used to sit—will be the first day of the rest of my life.

Bring it on!


  1. Bring it on! Indeed. Hoping that the next right thing presents itself to you and fills you with delight!

  2. I love the lightness I feel coming from you.

  3. It's crystal clear that you've made the right decision. I hope you have great days right around the corner.