Almost

Almost

The interior of Union, May 1, 2009 (Photo by Teo Paul) 

We were hoping to be open by May 5, at the latest, but the usual happened. One guy held up another guy from finishing his job, so yet another guy has to wait for that guy to finish so he can get done what he has to get done—and then everyone needs more money. It drags on and on. I don’t recommend gutting a place and trying to build a restaurant from rubble and dirt. Who knew such a sweet little spot could demand so much? It’s been tough to hold on to the spark that shot me into this thing when it feels like it’s just spitting me out. It bangs up your faith because you start thinking it’s you that’s making it take so damn long. It’s lonesome waiting for something to begin. You’re out in the wind with just self-doubt and a bunch of expectations to keep you company.

Even though there are days I wish I were somewhere else, somehow I still feel I am in the right spot. This place is about forgiveness. No matter what pain and agony have gone into building it, this is still the place that’s going to give me a shot—a moment, a chance—to put something I believe in out there. I am not a builder, or a plumber, or a painter, or an electrician, or a metalworker, or a gas man. I’m the last guy who gets to do his job in this restaurant. The longer I have to wait, the deeper in doubt I get, and the farther I am from where I’ve been and what I’ve done and where I want to go. I am doing all I can to hold on to that one note I want to kick this place off with and build around.

Nobody really knows what I am about to do. Nobody knows how I got here. Nobody knows my certainty and the way I see it coming together. I can write about it, explain it, get drunk and wave my arms around about it. But until I get my shot, it’s just me, one guy, trying to explain himself enough to put it together. The closer I get to opening, the more tenuous and strained it starts to feel.

My mom called me from Switzerland while I was writing this and said, “I’m worried about how you’re going to do the potatoes. I woke up at three in the morning thinking about it. If you do them the way you said, I don’t think it will work.”

I said, “I know. They’ll be too soft.”

Then she went on and said, “I’ve been testing it. You just need 25 minutes to do it right.”

Then she said, “Are you excited?”

I said, “I don’t think excited is the word.”

I think I’m nervous. I’m nervous about what’s about to change and happen and where it will lead. I’m nervous about not getting across what I’m trying to do. I’m nervous about losing what has led me here and the places and people I used to know. I can’t just get up and find them now. I’m dug in; they’ll have to come find me.