Sunday, May 17, 2015

The other side of the counter

I'm wearing dirty, holey jeans, work boots, and a worn out thermal shirt. It's raining to beat the band. I drive up 9th street and out of habit unhesitatingly go straight at the light, toward the back parking lot of the place-formerly-known-as-Bully Blends. I chuckle, a little sadly, and whip a u-ey and park in front of the shop.

Inside, the new owner greets me and introduces me to the baristas, saying "She worked here for eight years!" as though it's something. It was nice of her to do that.

Pete waves from the kitchen, grinning, happy to see me as though it's been a year instead of a day.

I place my order, and take a loyalty card.

There are a few long standing Bully Blends customers there, and I go to say hi. They are adjusting to the changes, too, and it's surprisingly hard for some. Some people have hung out at the Blends every day for years. They ask me about things, and I smile brightly and talk positively about the new changes and new adventures. They look at me with wide eyed compassion, seeing beyond the smile the raw side of goodbye. I smile bigger and look away, their understanding making it harder. I loved mornings when I would walk into the shop and know by name every single customer there. Most of the time I knew their stories. Sometimes I had their numbers in my phone.

Pete follows me out, and we chat a little out under the awning as the steady rain listens in. "Don't be a stranger!" he calls after me as I go, "Come by the house!"

When I left the shop the day before, the last time as an employee, it felt as you'd imagine and I was lost and sad. On my phone I had a text from a friend asking if I wanted to ride. So we did, and as usual riding saved the day and I was OK.

But that was Thursday, and on a rainy Friday I started a new job, a new chapter.

Things feel strange, unreal, unfamiliar.
I'm a little adrift, like I'm doing things but not for any particular reason.
Not unhappy. Transient.

I joined Tim - new boss, old friend - for lunch at the place formerly known as Bully Blends. He sat in his usual spot at the bar, where he has sat every day for years. Usually I stand on the other side of the bar chatting. Some days all the stools would be full of guys I knew from riding. Some of the employees called it "Jaralei's fan club". Now I sit next to Tim, having soup and coffee, same as he, part of the bar lunch group. I'm part of my own fan club.

What will I do?
I don't know.
I don't know what I'll be doing in June.
Or in the fall.
Or next year.

But - that's OK. It's OK. I'll figure it out.
And I'm always up for an adventure.

This ephemeral life
(Conversations at work, March 2011
Me: Look, Pete, I tidied the baking area.
Pete: Looks great! Now it'll be hard for anyone to find something to bitch about, though. I think I'll just urinate on the floor. Someone will say "It looks like someone pissed on the floor in here!" And I'll say "Don't be ridiculous.")

1 comment:

Donna said...

Oh Pete. You will miss those conversations with Pete. And Aida. And Marin. And Golnessa. And Megan. And.... Miller?

You and your little fan club. Of which you are now a member. How entertaining!