The Great Spring Flood of '09, Part III


We are learning the ins and outs of our cafe intimately. I now know that what I thought of as "intimate" was merely just a scratch on the surface. Respectfully, we've logged our fair share of hours in this space: long summer nights devoted to churning ice cream (even after an 11 hour shift), grueling sessions devoted to calculating appropriate wattage and fixture length for lighting, and measured, leveled, and sifted decisions made picking out the ever-important wall colors ("Buttermilk Biscuit" and "Sea Urchin" BTW) and shelf lengths. The reality is that when our menu reads "Handmade Food, Coffee, & Espresso" we should also include the word "cafe" itself because that's what it is: handmade, crafted, by process, with love. Yet despite all of the time we've spent in that place, we are now only realizing exactly what our cafe is, and what it means to us.

Somehow, this song just feels appropriate for the moment:

I cannot even tell you how many hours we've spent on our hands and knees on the this floor; bleach rag in our hands, chiseling away at the remnants of a hard day's work: dried egg yolk, black scuffs off soft-soled shoes, toddlers' Crayola experiments, and fruit salad shrapnel. And now, I hardly recognize these tiles. These floors have become bound and gagged in a never-ending maze of endless cords, tubes, and wires, which makes navigating this once ingrained road-map nearly impossible.

They have drilled holes in our walls, ripped the baseboard from our floors, removed the sink from the bathroom and the panels from the bar, chipped paint from every and all affected surfaces, and created a dust storm that's been deemed "regrettably unsuitable" by my allergies.

So when I say we are getting to know the ins and outs of our cafe intimately, I mean it. Some of it feels good, like purging; Evan was ecstatic upon discovering that our kitchen mats had never been cleaner. At least some good can come from 3 inches of standing water. Though some of it, as you can imagine, feels raw, like an open sore desperately seeking a scab.

So many people have given us their 2¢, much of which has been to try and relax, and enjoy these moments and the ones that will surely come when we will "laugh about times like these." But I have to tell you, this is not an easy thing to do, not when we've been...well...how do I say it? In mourning? Quite honestly yes, it does feel like mourning to a certain extent. We are feeling regret, and loss, and anger, and fear. But we also know that this is all part of the process, and a long one at that, and we know that there will inevitably be a light at the end of this tunnel. Simply because there has to be. There is no other option.

A friend wrote us today:

"I can only imagine the frustration and anxiety you guys must be going through. But I know that, if anyone can, it is the two of you that can find a way to persevere through this sorry turn of events!"

These words mean a lot. We feel blessed to have such good and decent people for friends, and we also feel respectfully inclined and encouraged to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get this train back on its tracks. Enough with the worrying and doubt. Enough with the Emergency break, and the pumping of the breaks, and the looming fear of failure. We are feeling the need to establish our goals, define our needs, and determine a swift course of action about when and how we're going to get this cafe back open. That certainly is the only way we're going to feel like we're ourselves again and regain our sanity in this situation. So here's to tomorrow, to new news, shedding light, productivity, and endurance.

And just because I've been doing a lot of listening to music over these past few days, I'll share another favorite that feels aptly relevant:

Then again, I would argue any and every moment is appropriate for David Byrne. I can't get the words out of my head: "And you may ask yourself-well...how did I get here? Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down..."


Poncho Wearer said...

i will be there when you open.

Anonymous said...

After digesting the sad news about LRBC I tried to find the so-called silver lining in all of this and selfishly I came up with this: this weekend I could sleep in a little later; this weekend I would not be elbow deep in strata, whoopie pie, and banana cake makings; this weekend my back and feet would not feel like they'd been run over by a semi, and this weekend I would not miss out on doing the Sunday NY Times crossword. But instead of relishing this silver lining I find myself feeling quite blue because this weekend I won't get to spend time with my wonderful children; this weekend I won't get to be part of a mission to create food that makes peoples' mouths and eyes water; that this weekend I won't get to visit with our ever faithful 2- and 4-legged customers; that this weekend I won't get to work along side a great crew, and that this weekend the light in LRBC will still be turned off.
Here's to future weekends when the light comes back on and we can all celebrate phoenix rising and the re-birth, renewal of the "little cafe that could." xxoo

Anonymous said...

I hadn't checked in your blog in a bit, and today decided I needed to see it for a bit of cheer. I find instead that you need the cheering. I read your blog and think I need to visit Portland, to see the city and visit your cafe. The food, atmosphere, the people always sound wonderfully good and comforting and fun. This does not sound fun at all. I'll tell you experiences like this do hurt, mourning is necessary, evaluation is too, but there is one day to get through, and then another. Some of those days are equally hard, but there may be one where you laugh at absurdities. Here in my city, New Orleans, four years ago when many of our friends and neighbors had only the clothes packed and intermittent electricity and gas, Humvees patrolling our streets (the National Guard were nice in our area overall), we said the new formal was BVD's and wife-beater t-shirts. One friend who had an amazing Thai restaurant set up a grill outside her place - 6 feet of water over everything - and barbecued chicken and made ice tea (of course with bottled water; regular water was mixed with some bleach for cleaning only). She worked day and night to get it back up again and open, carefully covering the walls with white paper the day before the health inspector came, and got her certificate. Unfortunately, her landlord was not so generous. She is now in New Mexico, but seems quite happy. A loss to our city, and an greater one for us in the 'hood who love her.
I smelled mold yesterday and got panicky. It was a pipe we finally pulled out of the ground, not in my house. So, almost four years but still jumpy. On the other hand, just as you are finding how much love surrounds you, so have we here. Yes, crime is the worst in the U.S., almost the world, here, but in my neighborhood, we hug every time we see each other, we wave from cars, we feed each other, we hang on porches or wander our street, wine glass or coffee in hand, and talk with our friends, all the people 'round here. You'll get there. Just now, though, let the tears flow as necessary; it helps grow the smiles.

MemrySmith said...

As much as it's news that is so hard to hear, harder to see, and must be so hard to articulate (but you do so beautifully!) thank you for sharing the shock with us. I can only imagine what this feels like, and my heart goes out to you two.

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