Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your Kitchen or Mine?

Business or Pleasure : Too Much Pleasure, Back to Business

I met my partner Joel about the time I was going back to school. He was friends with my father, worked down the block from the dry cleaning facility, and a two-month veteran of the work study program I was attending. In fact, it was because of him that I got in ahead of the waiting list in the first place.

I didn't like Joel, at first. Being 16 years older than me, we didn't have much in common. I tried to strike up conversation as we headed to school together twice a week. He was married, two grown sons who were not much younger than me, at the time, and he was a Born Again Christian. Most of our early conversations consisted of me ripping up his backwards, racist, and sexist beliefs.

In the year and a half I was working at the school with Joel, he had separated from his wife. I was in the middle of my own messy separation, as well. I would leave my husband, he would come find me - begging and crying for me to come home, and I would go back. I did this again and again over the course the my work study program. I started drinking heavily with other stagiers. I was stumbling to my new bank job half drunk in the morning and then running to school to work quickly so that me and my cohorts could disappear and get drunk on the rooftop again and again. We stumbled into Limerick's across the street to drink some more until the sun came up. We passed out on the trains, to get home, shower, dress and then head out to our day jobs. I killed many brain cells that year.

My little side business stopped moving. I was too drunk, tired, and hungover during the week to make cakes that were needed on the weekdays. I was sleeping, fighting with the soon-to-be ex-husband, or doing mountains of laundry during the weekends to really push for more food orders. Still, I had a small trickle of clients who ordered odds and ends from me every month. For one reason or another, my little business was still breathing.

Joel and I hooked up during this time. I wouldn't say I loved him. I was attached to him, though. He protected me at school. He had my back. He pulled me out of trouble time and time again. He covered for me when I was in no shape to work the classes. He cleaned me up when I was a hot mess. He was the anchor I needed so badly. Over time; I fell in love with him.

Before work study was over, I had left the husband for good, and gotten a better day job. Joel had left his wife for good, but not before getting her knocked up...long story. We moved in together. My parents had no idea. My soon-to-be-ex had no idea where I was living. All they knew was that suddenly, I was making all kinds of new food and showing up at the house. I was bringing new things to parties, getting bigger orders from some of the guests and networking like mad.

My little secret living arrangements meant I had more space. I had a professional kitchen. I had equipment. I also had a partner who was willing to help me get anything I needed, drive me anywhere I needed to go, and work with me all day or night on recipes and new concepts. I finally had it; someone who loved to work as hard as I did (actually he worked a million times harder) and loved all aspects of food, too.

Things were finally starting to gel together.

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