Coming Out of the Fog

When I wrote that "nothing will ever be the same again" I don't think I fully grasped the idea. In fact, I know I didn't. Because I still don't. It's an infinite concept. It's like trying to hug the sky.

Surely, life is different.

But the greatest lesson I've learned from this incident, that is, my mom suffering cardiac arrest, is that life goes on, with or without you.

Time marches on. Customers keep coming in. Deliveries are made. Bills keep arriving. My mom's heart keeps beating.

Yes, life goes on. However, I now know it's up to me to learn how I want to live it.

While I've been quiet on the blog up until now, I've really been thinking about you all, thinking about all the wonderful things I want to share with you. Thinking about how much I miss my writing, and putting life on the page. So much has happened since June, that fateful gloomy month. So many good things. As Evan so gracefully put it, we've been doing are darnedest to "enjoy every sandwich." Forget about the flood, the crashed hard drive, my mom's cardiac arrest, and the lost job opportunity. All in the past. Good riddance, I say.

Since we last spoke, I turned 27. I used to always dread this year. I happen to be part of a generation that idolized Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison, all of whom died at the age of 27. Not to mention the fact that it felt like an odd time to celebrate, particularly because we had to leave my mom at home. But like I said, life goes on with or without you and I'll be damned if I spend another moment dreading the opportunity to turn another year older. Ever since my mom's recovery I've been dedicated to squeezing the juice from every moment; to getting the pulpy pieces stuck beneath the nails of my fingertips and letting the juice run down my hands and dry in sticky sweetness, too good not to lick away.

birthday photo credit: Tim Roth

In essence, I'm learning how to live again. Or to put it more frankly, I'm learning how to live well again. Something I had given up on some time ago, and had not even missed enough to realize. Something that couldn't be reignited inside until the core of my being was rocked, bent, and eventually replaced. Yes, suffice to say that I've never really put enough thought into how much the cafe has changed me, my life, and my life with Evan. I've heard some compare it to having a baby. I can't officially comment since our children are those of the four-legged and furry variety, but I can see some similarities between the two. You know, having a baby and a restaurant.

Like loving something so much you get lost in the process. Like being willing to throw your entire self into something without pause or hesitation. Yes, you love it. Yes, you can't imagine your life without it. And yes, it is literally a part of you. You couldn't imagine investing in something more valuable or worthwhile.

Regardless, for the past two years our toddler of a restaurant has all but consumed me, in some good ways and in some bad. In the end, I barely felt myself and the things I used to hold dear disappearing. Sure, life wasn't ideal but how else could it be? I got used to the empty fridge, and only eating once a day, the overwhelming pile of laundry, the lack of sleep, exercise, and social gatherings. I got used to just making it through to the next day, the next weekend, the next day off. This was my existence, and I hardly questioned its validity or value, oftentimes assuming that this was not only the way owning a restaurant was supposed to be, but that this was the way our life had to be.

However, things are different now. My attention has been demanded elsewhere, to the health and well-being of myself and of my family. As I said, life will never be the same again and I'm just now beginning to realize how grateful I am for that. It's not that my interest in the cafe has dwindled, it's more like I got lost in the process, in the overwhelming sea of it all, and as a result of this incident, and my family and friends coming together so seamlessly in a time of dire need, I am now able to anchor my ship and come out of the fog...if that makes any sense at all.

But enough of that. Like I said, I have so much to share with you, things that are much more intriguing than my momentary identity crisis turned Oprah moment. First and foremost being that my sly husband purchased a new camera for me for my birthday. I couldn't think of a more thoughtful or relevant gift to give to someone who is suddenly chomping at the bit to reclaim her life while documenting everything in the process. So cheers to Evan who does exactly the right thing 99% of the time, which is precisely why I married him.

Speaking of which, that also happened. That whole one year of marriage thing. We celebrated with dinner at my mom's house, made complete by a dense, chocolaty cake lovingly crafted by my mom. It was perfect. But that's not all that's gone on. I've done much more these past few weeks than just sitting around eating chocolate cake.

I've gone on to find my soul whilst dancing amongst peacocks to traditional bluegrass:

That's the Del McCoury Band FYI

I've said to hell with my allergies and hiked through fields, clutching fistfuls of grass (and even gnawing on some) along the way:

and I was even offered an opportunity to taste Summer:

summer fideos at Toro Bravo

I've had my heart broken, mended, repaired, and melted:

Ms. LaLa Simone

and I've cooked, plated, served, and eaten with the best of them:

The Jepson Dinner Table

But do you want to know what's even better than that? Better than new puppies and watermelon, water fights and kegs in the park, sister induced shopping sprees and farmers market splurges, blueberry-peach pie and locating my green thumb, and eating my first-ever-Stromboli and rocking out during star lit dance parties?

Well, that would have to be our super stellar employees who just plain got sh*t done this past week so that we could take her,

our mom,

Arch Cape, OR

to the beach. Her home, where she thrives. No, my mom is not from Arch Cape, or anywhere near the Oregon Coastline. I think I've mentioned before that my mom is Hawaiian. That's in actual native blood. In other words, her feet feel most at ease squished in sand. If there's a beach, she'll be walking it. She likes to collect rocks. She's been doing it for years. Rocks from beaches across the globe. Striped ones, heart shaped, and "butterscotch stones," as she likes to call them. She takes them to remember moments in time, to bring them home with her. I promised my mom during her very first night in the hospital that I was going to take her here. As she lay there unconscious I kept stroking her hair away from her face, whispering to her about all the rocks were going to collect along the beach once we got there.

Exit this way

Needless to say I have been waiting for this moment, for the opportunity to fulfill my promise. This past Sunday we were fortunate enough to make it happen. The five of us (and three pups!) piled into the car and headed to the beach for a few nights. Coincidentally we also happened to miss a giant heat wave that shocked the valley and instead, experienced blissfully (though unusual) warm sunny days on the Oregon coast. We spent our days cruising the farmers' market, eating clam chowder and cheddar biscuits, shelling crab, seeking sand dollars, hiking mountains, lounging in slumber, salivating over pages of books, listening to the Karen Dalton hour on the ipod, brewing CCR Guatemalan coffee, and savouring




We were in heaven. All of us. And how sweet it was to experience it here on Earth. Amongst family. Amongst my own rocks.


kati said...

beautiful post, ali. looking forward to lots of pics from your new camera...

Mink Boutique said...

I love to read your BLOG. Being a business owner myself I find your reclamation of your life inspiring. I know reclaiming my life is something I strive to do, but it gets pushed to the back burner because "I think" my store needs me. Although a tough event has forced you to re-find your fun, enjoyment, and bliss I commend your ability to be able to slow down and realize it. Great Blog Allie, and happy birthday too!

Carla Mink

3418 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

LittleCanoe said...

Sigh. I wouldn't even know where to begin to comment on this beautiful blog entry. Incredible. Keep enjoying small moments like those, and I'll keep reading.

Tim D. Roth said...

Sometimes I get goosebumps when your beautifully honest stories unfold here on the blog. Not bad goosebumps, just the ones that remind me I'm still an emotional being. I am so glad for your awakening. The ways in which we are awakened are often extremely unfortunate, but oh so necessary. Cheers to taking yourself off the back burner and taking a full pot of moments and reducing them to their most essential components.

Kendal said...

beautiful beautiful beautiful entry.
so glad your mom is recovering, and that you missed the heat wave, and that you continue to write about your life here.

happy birthday and that is a gorgeous shirt by the way.

Deanne said...

Thank you for this post. I think we all need a reminder to "take ourselves off the back burner", as Tim so eloquently put it. I hope that your journey can serve as an example for me and others who are also guilty of emotionally subsisting day to day.

Kronda said...


I'm so glad you got to experience such a beautiful trip. My mom and I went to the beach the week she was diagnosed and it's definitely a great memory.

P.S. What kind of camera did you get?

Melinda said...

Dear Ali and Evan, I have been reading your blog for quite some time now. I am a Oregonian but have lived in England for 31 years. I was at nursing school in Portland so still love reading about Portland and local restaurants. I have had such a kick reading about your restaurant and seeing it grow and evolve. If I lived in Portland, I would be a dedicated customer, for sure!
I am sorry to hear about your mother's illness but am glad she is recovering. (I have been in the same situation with my mother.)
I just wanted to send good wishes to you both. I love to visit your blog and see what you are up to. Your writing is quite lovely.
I hope to come to visit your cafe in February when I come home. (I will be the quiet customer who stays too long!)
Cheers and all the best.