It forced me to really think about what i was feeling,
and to sit inside my heart
so that my hard wired head could stop
and i became content to be in my own space
content to sit within myself as I moved.
content to just watch as the world changed around me
merely maneuvering my truck from idea to idea
it forced me to process things by writing them
but it also gave me the space to think things through in conversations on the phone
but that depended entirely on cell service
in half motion
you latch on to these moments, these images, as they race in your head, as they take tight turns, as a force like gravity pulls and pulls you away. you find yourself empty save the quiet conversations and the warm silence. the moments that make you you. but how ‘bout I move them?
frantically searching for a place to get in the water
and even as the sun dipped under the saddles I sped through
I could feel I could find it
and I did
I changed quickly and jogged past multiple signs which thoughtfully informed that this area was the elephant seal’s area not the humans area, I wasn’t wearing my glasses and it was not very bright so I only saw them as I was leaving
but I saw surfers in the water and the break looked nice enough so I ran through the grass towards the beach 100 yards off
where the grass stopped the seals started
some small but others enormous
big black bodies
and the screaming
but nothing could pierce the orange and purple sky
I darted through a maze of them
(entirely honestly I don’t know where the courage to do this came from)
I sprinted the last 20 feet to the water, threw my board down and paddled hard past the break to arrive at the silent surfers
I was a mess of limbs and heavy breathing but their boards just made small sounds when they breached the swaying surface and i settled into the salt and the sea
it was a pitchy little close out but occasionally the ocean would toss in this fast pulling right that could pick you up at the rocky point and deposit you on the other side of the cove in just seconds, forcing you to take a deep breath while you paddle back past the seals and the sand
I told this guy that I had been looking to get in the water before sunset and I thanked him for sharing his spot with me
“I’ve come here every day for a couple weeks hoping this spot would be breaking”
“oh yeah?” I said, moving closer by kicking underneath my board
“It opens up only a couple times a year, it needs just the right swell direction, if the waves are too big it washes out, and if it’s too small it doesn’t break, oh and the wind blows it out almost every day on top of that.”
A wave came and he tore off down the line
I watched the sun set from the water
splashed the cold water on my face.
And When i got back to the car I wrote
I wrote for him,
To her we are all just bodies
Blubbery and black
She pulls and pulls
The heat from our soles
But occasionally she opens up
And gives back
as he got in his truck I ripped out the page in my journal and handed it to him
When I knocked on the kitchen door, I carried only clammy hands, a thin resume, and a fascination with a world that I had begged to be let into. Cory, my soon to be Chef, gave me the once over, pointed to a cashier, and continued violently tearing apart poultry.
A week later when I came to interview, he saw in me something from his teenage years. At least that’s what he told me as I signed the workman’s comp forms in the hospital after I rammed my thumb into the mean side of a mandoline.
I started small and assumed I would slowly be introduced to the kitchen, but Cory had other plans and a short staff, so one night I was thrown an apron and instantly I became a fixture of the frier. I played tetris with time, organizing chicken wings and okonomiyaki style tater-tots.
What they don’t tell you is that short order cooks are prep cooks, janitors, singers, and comedians.
When we ate cold food on milk crates, the cooks told stories of long nights in food service, they told me about forearm sized scars, crazy chefs, and what homelessness taught them. The dishy had a stutter and sometimes he needed a ride home, José wanted to teach art, Steven was overqualified, and I was hungrily learning everything I could.
Working on the line roaring with heavy metal and a hot range taught me that kitchens aren’t about food, they are about people. They are about stories.