Something old, something borrowed.

As always it happened yesterday. Let me give you a feedback. My grandmother is sick, the sickest she has even been. She is in the hospital with no expectation of coming out of it. I’m the only one from the family that didn’t fly back home to see her and there are many reasons for that. The first one is that I cannot stand being in a hospital. The second one is very simple, and you might think I’m being mean or cold but the thing is I wasn’t that close to her.

The story happened about 16 years ago when my grandfather died. He was young and so was she. He had lung cancer, a very draining and painful illness for both of them. When he finally departure my grandmother had her two years of grief and then decided to date again. Good for her right? Wrong. My grandfather was a gentleman, a man that represented the men of our city. Her boyfriend? A scumbag.

I have this very clear memory that explains why my grandmother was gone for me after my grandfather died. Actually there are two memories. I was about nine years old when we met her new boyfriend. At the beginning he was ok, until the moment he introduced himself to me as ‘my new grandfather’. From that moment on I hated him with all my guts, and I was only nine years old.

Time passed by and things began getting worse and worse with him, all the family hated him but hey, he is making our beloved grandmother happy so let’s deal with it.

Later on their relationship I cannot remember why but the new couple got into a fight with my mom and my uncles. I remember overhearing the conversation and she said very clearly that since my grandfather died she wasn’t going to be either a mother neither a grandmother. She said she was starting a new life.

For a kid to hear that is quite traumatizing. I was devastated but at the same time I got the message. Obviously if I heard that today I would say something like- what the hell are you talking about? But it wasn’t that way.

Well, years passed by and I lost all sorts of contact with my grandmother, so much that if I called on her birthday we would exchange a couple of words and then there would be an empty silence between us.

Yesterday night it was different. I was talking to my parents about her situation and how she might not get out of it and when we hang up the phone I started remembering all the thing that she gave me that were hers. I always liked vintage stuff so I was always asking her if she had old clothes or discs or even furniture that she didn’t want anymore and that I could keep. All of a sudden I couldn’t sleep thinking about a purse she gave me as an eighteenth birthday present. A purse that she used to wear for the city balls she used to go with my grandfather.

At that moment I had to call my mum and ask her where the purse was, and thankfully she said I didn’t have to worry, that she had it at home because she had borrowed it to go to a wedding. I felt relieved that the purse wasn’t gone.

When I finally fell asleep I was having all kinds of dreams but suddenly my heart stopped and someone whispered my name in my ear. I immediately woke up and said out loud – talk to me, I’m listening. The voice said nothing else.

The purse was my grandmother. And I think the voice was also her. She is fine, and whatever happens to her I’m sure she will be fine as well. I’m sad to know that I don’t know half of the stories I should know, and that all that might be gone soon. Im just glad I kept everything she gave me, and I’ll make it all be worth it.

My first Chef

Once again I was doing a stage at a very well-known kitchen in my home town. It was my first time being part of a service, I spent 6 months there. The chef was the most lovable, yet temperamental person I had worked for. I started on pastry learning the basic stuff like crème patissier, lemon tarts, glazes, etc.

After one month on pastry I asked to be transferred to the main kitchen, so I could really feel if the kitchen was the place to be. They started putting me on starters, then slowly got me involved with the mains and afterwards they were even calling me to help out on the big functions around the city.

A lot of stress happened, of course, but that wasn’t the high point.
After six months there (on an unpaid stage), the pressure on me was getting higher and higher, and I just didn’t want to be part of that anymore. It was time to move on.

I was scared the chef would hate me when I told him it was my time to leave.

The opposite happened.

One day I pulled him to the side and told him I had to go, that his kitchen had a lot of problems that I couldn’t put up with anymore. That maybe I wasn’t mature enough to deal with them or maybe it was just a bad management issue. I could hear myself saying that and seeing him yelling back at me for being so arrogant.

The chef was speechless and said that no one had ever told him that. That he knew things weren’t perfect but that nobody in 6 years of business had had the guts to tell him what made them leave.

He thanked me.

He said he was very happy with everything I had done for the restaurant and that he knew, from the first day that he met me, that I wasn’t like everybody else and that he never expected me to stay.

He said – you don’t belong here, you belong to the world, and no one can take that away from you. I hope to see you soon, sit down, have a beer and hear all of your adventures.

Now every year I go back home, I do exactly what we agreed on, and the respect that I show for him, he shows back.