"Where You'll Find Me"

We seem to run into a lot of familiar faces around the neighborhood, all inquiring where and when we're going to reopen our business. The people at the local branch of our bank were some of the most inquisitive, playfully demanding the return of fried egg sandwiches to take precedent over us enjoying any "free time."

As anxious as we often find ourselves, desperate for the answer to that and many other questions regarding the state of our future, we are also reminded of the fact that this is a rare and delightful time in our lives; an opportunity to sit back (save money) and enjoy life. While we have become painfully aware of our abrupt change in income, we also feel wealthy with the amount of activity and productivity we've accomplished since shutting the doors to the cafe. It has been awhile since we have had the luxury of having extra time on our hands. We are trying to spend this time very wisely as we are surely in the middle of embracing one of life's important lessons: time is worth more than money.

Therefore we are trying to keep the present in mind, rather than focusing too hard on the future. Making the most of the present means asking yourself this question:"What do I want to do for fun?" Answering this question at first felt daunting--specifically because it came coupled with the fact that we were no longer "Ali and Evan, owners of Little Red Bike Cafe," simply "Ali and Evan."

Our abrupt shift in lifestyle has had some extraordinary results.

To start, as of last Friday I am three weeks cigarette free. Or as I'm looking at it, $18 richer, with healthier lungs, and noticeably dewier, glowing skin.

We've honed in on Farmers' markets for multitasking. We like biking there and making plans to meet friends. You can exercise, socialize, support a good cause, and grab goods for an affordable dinner at home all at the same time.

We made a pledge to not dine out during the month of July* in hopes of becoming more conscious of where and how we spend our money. In doing so we were forcefully reintroduced to our home kitchen. We spent a day cleaning out the fridge and pantry, organizing the Tupperware and shelves, and scrubbing down the stove, oven, and tile. A mess that took approximately three years to create vanished on a Saturday afternoon with the help of four hands, a little elbow grease, and plenty of bluegrass music. While I miss the days of dressing up and going out on the town, I am also finding pleasure in cooking at home, bumping hips with my husband as we canoodle over a hot stove. For lack of a better phrase, walking into our kitchen now feels like a breath of fresh air-- a combination of cooperation, inspiration, and success.

After tackling the kitchen, the rest of our home was next. We systematically went through the home room by room, creating boxes along the way: "TRASH," "GOODWILL," and "SELL." In all honesty, our home hasn't been this clean or organized since the day we moved in. Imagine this, if being in the kitchen now feels like a breath of fresh air, the rest of our home feels like a dead tree has just been removed from our path. We were also taught an incredibly valuable lesson from the buyers at Buffalo Exchange and Powell's Books when we went to sell some of our wares: Our taste in literature will always prove more valuable than our sense of fashion.

Speaking of literature, we're both reading again. This feels nice, and remarkably cheap in comparison to the video rentals that inevitably included a late-fee charge. Evan's currently picked up my ninth grade copy of Mandelbaum's translation of "The Odyssey of Homer" (complete with my personal notes, such as--"Athena wants to get the show on the road" and multi-color hi-lighted passages). I'm thumbing through Elizabeth Gilbert's "Committed," and Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project"(obviously someone is doing some soul searching--ahem).

We've also put a great deal of effort towards taking in physical activity every day. After spending over 1,000 days standing on our feet we were looking forward to returning to a more active lifestyle. For Evan this means early morning rides to make the rounds at coffee shops, or to meet friends at Portland's International Test Rose Garden for thermoses of French press coffee, and prosciutto and butter sandwiches. For me this means daily does of cardio (think: biking, hiking, and walking) paired with a combination of stretching and sculpting yoga postures. The ultimate goal of these practices is to wake up feeling as good as possible. While the added benefits of weight loss, fitness, and flexibility are a bonus, putting our bodies to use again, after what seemed like an eminent time of hibernation, is the greatest relief of all. To feel our muscles tighten and stretch, to notice the pulsing of blood from our hearts, through our veins, shooting oxygen through the rest of our body, to feel ourselves getting stronger, well...that feels indescribable. Simply put, it's what feeling alive feels like.

Lastly, we've officially learned that the beach really isn't that far away. The 1.5 hour car-ride will melt from your memory the minute you (get out of the car) smell the salt in the air. Promise.

So when people ask us, "What have you been doing?" Here is the gist of it:

Picture us: Packing bunches of basil in backpacks on our bikes, throwing rocks on the sand for the dogs, talking to tarot card readers and walking through the woods, sipping espresso, and reading Thich Nhat Hanh and James Joyce, barefoot on the bluffs of the Peninsula, catching up with a friend over a frosty beer, nestled at home hawking LRBC t-shirts via USPS and treasures via craigslist, eating homemade cinnamon rolls and edamame pesto out on the patio.

But if we're not accomplishing any of these things then we're probably busy working on the next project.

More on that when the time is right.

*with the exception of birthdays, anniversaries, and/or food from carts/shops that equates to <$6/person (not including tip).


Tim D. Roth said...

Man, I love this version of you two. I hope it continues to evolve in your favor. Because as surely as you are happy, I will be happy for an with you!

tomás said...

ali, this was a fantastic and truly heart warming thing to read shortly after waking up. i wish my time off had been so inspired! i miss you guys, and hope to bump into you around the neighborhood. if not i might just settle for honest to goodness making plans for dinner...

jessica said...

you know, i only ever made it into the Cafe once, being from Seattle, but it was lovely and reading about the things you're doing now is also lovely.

the best, best, best wishes and please continue to write - your posts simply -feel good- to read.


Anonymous said...

BAH, I never made it to the cafe, and don't even have a good excuse. BUT- I wish you both the best. such inspiring human beings. Keep writing.

fiona said...

I keep thinking/hoping I'm going to see the two of you in a food cart...