Hello, Again.

I have been completely out of it this entire month. We have had such high hopes for the year of 2008 and at this point I cannot help but feel like I have entered the new year in zombie mode. For the past few weeks I have woken up feeling like I have just put my head on the pillow. Exhausted, I have picked up the habit of rolling out of bed and immediately putting on my slippers...and not wanting to take them off...ever. In fact, the picture above is in reference to this daily occurrence. In this instance I was so reluctant to get out of my slippers and put on my shoes that I ended up packing my shoes along to the cafe with the intention of changing in to them later. Never happened. I spent the entire day in my Uggs while my tennis shoes spent the entire day here, beneath the oven. At first I sort of liked this image. It kind of made me realize, "Hey, wait. This is our kitchen. I can do whatever I want in it." Never before have I have the authority to just leave something unattended to for so long in a kitchen. Never before had a kitchen actually been my kitchen. So I allowed myself to have a sort of it's my party and I'll cry if I want to moment.

And so the shoes sat unattended to and beneath the oven for over a week or so. Until Evan finally had enough and moved them to the basement. After awhile I started to realize that opting for slippers over tennis shoes really had little to do with authority and more to do with the state of things in my life. These shoes taking up real-estate in an already cramped and (at times) disorganized kitchen was just shy of pathetic. And let's face it, sheepskin and suede aren't really conducive to commercial cooking. And then it hit me: Man, I'm exhausted. I am physically here nor there and mentally brain-dead. Didn't we just get off from vacation? Sheesh, how did it get to this point?

Well, it didn't take me too long to figure out how I got myself into this situation. Where have I been? Why am I so tired? Well, I can answer those question very easily. I have been planning a wedding. More specifically, I have been planning our wedding. We have spent 7 years together in complete and seemingly effortless bliss. Why ruin that peacefulness with a wedding? At first it felt like something we were more interested in doing for our families; to give them a sense of closure on the matter. To do as they did and what their parents had done before them, to come together and commemorate the relationship in front of others. And so the planning or un-planning began. Before we were engaged I always felt that Evan and I would have a very simple wedding. Very few frills. No bells. No whistles. Just me, him and our families. Once engaged we pictured an intimate June destination wedding in Telluride. Not only did we see this as an opportunity to spend time with our loved ones in a location that was very special to us but could there be a better excuse to go on vacation?

When this first started other brides told me that in the end I would want exactly the opposite of what I wanted now. That the nonconformist will end up with the most traditional wedding, and the super traditionalist will either end up eloping or wishing they had. Us? We were somewhere in the middle. Super tight-knit, close family, not super-religious but certainly spiritual, questioning the necessity of a "lawful marriage." Neither of us have ever felt the need for a piece of paper to determine or official-ize our love and commitment to one another. But as time went on and scheduling conflicts arose, and we realized just how many people are dear to us and us to them, a nine person celebration all of the sudden started to feel wrong. And so our plans changed yet again and the process of planning a larger and somewhat "more traditional" wedding began. This process (keyword here is process versus the word "task") I have found completely rewarding as well as emotionally draining. As my dad continues to say, "hopefully you only do this once."

And with that in mind I have set out to create a day that truly speaks to who Evan and I are and what are relationship is about. In the end my dream is for our day to be a grand celebration reflecting the love of two people who met each other when they were children and instantly became friends; who always chose friendship first over a relationship; who endured 4 years separated by distance; whose love surpassed state lines and international boarders; who adore food as much as they adore each other; and who are fortunate enough to have the love and support of some amazing people around them.

Thus far, I have basically realized that no matter how intimate and small you envision your celebration, there are still hundreds details to consider and tackle. And So...this month, in addition to redesigning and rewriting the cafe's entire menu, making new soups daily, and mastering the ultimate Banana Pudding Ice Cream recipe, I have been:

  • Making guest lists
  • Designing invitations
  • Interviewing and booking venues, florists, photographers, and bands
  • Finding my dress, aka "The One"
  • Working with caterers to create our ultimate dinner menu
  • Etc., etc., etc. This list really could be and is quite a bit longer but I will spare you from the details as even I am getting to the point of saying, "Whatever. I just don't care."
Before this point our life was purely the cafe. This left plenty of time to read, and write, and blog to my heart's content. Most recently I have been devoting all of my free time to the wedding. So just a note to those of you who have asked and/or wondered, please do not worry. I am alive and well. I have not lost my passion for writing or my devotion to the cafe. However, I have taken a step back in order to really process what lies ahead in the future for both Evan and me and our place. I'd like to think that the time I have spent away from the cafe both mentally and physically has allowed me to nurture my relationship with Evan and our impending culmination of what has been the greatest gift of my life; as Raymond Carver put it, "To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth." I cannot help but think this work naturally overlaps into the cafe realizing that it is in fact our love and our relationship that brought us the cafe in the first place. I'd like to think of it as killing two birds with one stone.

In the meantime I have officially made a promise to myself, no more slippers in the kitchen. Maybe I'll save them for walking down the aisle.

A Side-note...
Last but not least I cannot continue thinking or writing about this event or end this post without a huge shout-out to my sister, dear sister, Tara. For whom without I think I might be dis-engaged and/or in a mental treatment facility. Your love, guidance, care packages, and ever-faithful opinions have been my lifesaver over this past month. You are amazing, I love you to infinity and beyond, and I will never stop being to grateful that I was granted a sister like you in this life.


whimsy2 said...

Ali, I've been a fan of your blog for quite a few months now. It's beginning to feel like you're family. You're clearly a bright, talented, and loving person.

I visited the Little Red Bike Cafe a few times and really enjoyed the food and the vibe. It's a little out of my usual rounds -- I live in Southeast Portland -- so it's a trip for me to get there.

I don't know how many senior citizens visit your place - the few times I was there I felt about 40 years older than anyone else - but it was okay. I don't bike, but my daughter does, and I definitely support your focus on bicyclists.

I'm a little shy, but if you see a senior looking lady with salt-and-pepper curly hair and glasses eating lunch, that'll be me.
I'll get up to your place as often as I can make it. And I wish you luck in your life and future endeavors.

gl. said...

lovely post. i don't know how you do it all, nor manage to do it with such grace.

also, you may be interested in the kinder, gentler version of multitasking: "feeding two birds with one seed." i think that's very appropriate for the cafe. :)

Anonymous said...

I am "verklempt" - tears are welling in my eyes as I read this post. And I am counting my blessings that I am the lucky mom who is so privileged to have you and Tara for daughters. As for the Ughs, how about lined crocs - are they okay for a commercial kitchen?

Ali and Evan said...

*Blushing* Thank you, in so many ways. For your kind comments; for trekking out to our place from SE; for reading and sharing your thoughts on on blog; for supporting bicyclists; and for your support of us and the cafe. I would be so pleased if you ever introduced yourself to one of us so that we may share these feelings with you in person. Though we try to express ourselves as best we can through these machines oftentimes they leave much to be desired.
Thanks again.

Ali and Evan said...

I don't know if "grace" is quite the right word but I appreciate the implications. ;)

And as a matter of fact I like your version of multitasking much, much better.

Thanks for reading/writing

Anonymous said...

Very touching. You (and Evan) continue to amaze me and the world is blessed to have two spirits like you.
As for the footwear, whatever you choice, at least it's a "step in the right direction" over the dozen+ pairs of Docs that once occupied space in your closet!!!

Anonymous said...

Dude! Ali, I say Ugg it up all you want! Damn right it's your kitchen! It sounds like you're processing a ton of transition stuff right now and it's totally okay by the world if you need to wear some slippers for a while... physically and metaphorically ;)
(I know I surely do)