“I don’t get why you are doing this.”
“Of all the other jobs you could have taken, with your writing and editing skills, why a restaurant job?”
“…it’s time for you to stop thinking about yourself, get off your ass, and redirect your focus.”
Welcome to the whacky world of RG comments and email: the curious, the poignant, the nasty, the sweet, the thoughtful, the thoughtless.
I welcome them all. I read them all. I try to answer as many as I can. I am only so-so at responding to comments on my posts (Kim Ayres, how do you do it so well?), and a tad better at responding to email. And as any blogger must surely feel, my “regulars” are the best.
Whether written by regulars or one-timers, I am always pleased when someone comments, regardless of tone or intent. I love the comments that offer honest support and cheer. I love the comments that show someone gets the humor in my more lighthearted posts. I am humbled when a reader says I have moved him or her to tears, because chances are, I was moved to tears as I wrote the post. I love the self-described de-lurkers, and I am always curious how many of them are actually out there. Do I have a vast audience? I track my “read” numbers now and then, but I really don’t know how many folks out there are checking in on a regular basis. Some days I feel like no one is; on others I sense that the entire East Coast of the United States has wandered into my world.
Of late, however, comments and questions about why am I in Florida, why am I in the restaurant business, and why don’t I just get over myself, have led the pack. They have hit a nerve. At first, they made me feel slightly defensive. A few walks in the sun later, however, and I realize they have made me examine quite honestly what it is they ask of me, wonder about me.
Why am I doing this? If by “this,” one means living alone in Florida, I would have to say for the weather and the job. I hate winter and crave the warmth and sun and beach. What better environment in which to fall apart in order to put yourself back together again? And my job, although far more work than I ever imagined, utilizes by best skills. I probably drive my GM and the other managers crazy with my intensity at times, but I don’t have much of a life outside of work, so they are stuck with a not-so-happy-go-lucky gal as I used to be.
If by “this,” one means away from my husband, well, that is not something I want to publicly examine in much detail. It is one thing to share my own angst and emotions, but it would be terribly unfair to share anything more. We are sorting through what got us here, and that is enough said at this point.
If by “this,” one means going out on a couple of “dates,” and going to bars to watch football or treat myself to dinner, and meeting up with people who aren’t really like me at all–um, the few times the opportunity has presented itself, I have decided to go along for the ride. Sometimes it has been fun, sometimes not. I work a lot of hours, and my time off is limited to peculiar off hours by the rest of the world’s standards. My so-called “going out” time is relatively little in comparison to the majority “this” of my life down here–running and walking, writing, photographing this beautiful area–all very solitary pursuits. Sometimes, I just need to be with people–and not the ones I spend so much time with in my restaurant.
Why restaurant work? I am really good at what I do, at least with guests (for how I actually do at my job, you’d have to ask my GM). I love the think-on-my-feet interactions, the fleeting moments of personal connection with guests. I love to “sell” my beautiful restaurant’s ambiance and food and create special evenings for those who have chosen our place as the place to be to celebrate one of life’s milestones or just to have a simple lunch or dinner. I love moving all the time. I love the fast pace. I love it that no two shifts are ever the same.
Why not writing for a living? I have done it, and it was great. I hope to do so again, but not full time. I’d love to write a novel, a screenplay, a memoir. Writing Restaurant Gal keeps my writing sharp, and maybe it will lead to one or all three, at some point. But for work-work, the restaurant world is where I want to be.
As for getting “off my ass” and redirecting “my focus,” sorry. Not happening right now. From the time I was eight-years-old and found myself offering advice to my mother who had just declared to me–as she wept–that she wanted to leave her second husband (my step-father), to raising my half sister from pre-adolecence through college because neither of my parents were in an emotional state to do so themselves, to doting on elderly fathers (my stepfather and father-in-law) only to have them be forever angry with me because it was never enough–I say time out, and time off.
I remain a loving mother to my kids, and I would put this whole journey of introspection on a very back burner if either or both needed me in their immediate realms at any given moment, now or in the future. I remain a good friend to those best friends who are with me in my heart, no matter where I live. I hope they know I am there for them, at any time, for any reason, too.
The rest of the time is mine. All mine. For the very first time in my life, my time is my own, through all the sadness and loneliness and wonder and humor that this time includes. I will emerge on the other side a more self-assured woman, a better mother, and a closer friend to those closest to me. When will that be? That time is still up in question.
Thank you to those who choose to read about the journey as I live it, as I write about it. What a grand party we shall have when we look back on it, yes?