It’s all kind of fragile.
I keep thinking that, as I work and come home and think about the balance created by the stars and star stuff we are made of.
I don’t know what’s holding it (and us) all together. Food systems and water and pollution. It seems like the load is too much.
I mean, yes, it is too much.
There was a time in my life when I thought I could change the world. Everything is so radical and exciting when you feel fire running through your veins. You think if all you had to do was convince enough people, everything would change.
I suppose my passions have shifted a bit over the years. I am still convicted about the lack of justice and equality, and mourn heavily with our friends who live in poverty. That will never change in my heart.
As a cook, I’ve become friends with people who have been homeless, addicts, in jail and are still currently dealing with some if not all of the above.
The kitchen has always been a place for these people. It’s no wonder that I’ve ended up there, to be honest. Yeah, the sudden rise of “how cool would it be to be a chef” has a lot of folks flocking to the nitty gritty, but I will say, things are different here.
I’m struggling a bit.
I grew to love and cook food on a deeper level in Portland. It’s a foodie city. Its economy works (decently well) around restaurants and farms and purveyors. Its markets are set up to inspire people to learn and cook with such wonderful, fresh ingredients.
This is not about me calling out a place. This is only me, moving back to a place with massive potential, and a lack of systems. These things take time, I do realize.
I also want to recognize the folks that are already here doing the hard work. And for the people who have come and gone. For the workers in the fields, under the hot sun not making much of wage either. I write this, in the same spirit as to why you do what you do. I realize I am sort of new again to this whole thing. So I am always humbled, and realize there is a lot I need to learn.
On a daily basis these days, I contemplate what it would be like to own my own spot.
Somedays I get to talk to people about it. I find it encouraging.
Other days people are less so. Saying that this place isn’t ready yet. That it will fail.
I’m getting sort of..antsy.
In the sense that I can’t afford life here, as cheap as it may be at times, on a cook’s wage. I see other friends of mine in the same position. It’s really pitiful, this whole minimum wage thing. And honestly, I’m not learning a ton, and realize that unless I am being challenged, the wage doesn’t compensate for knowledge.
I go back and forth in my head, that if I’m going to change my occupation, this will be the place, because I surely can’t support myself here for too long. It would break my heart to have to move out of the kitchen. It has been part of home the past five years.
In my head, I am constantly hearing myself say, “Well, if there’s nothing left to burn, you have to catch yourself on fire..” And while that is the intro to one of my favorite songs, it resonates deeply.
I am not in this industry to make it rich.
I do want to help change it, though.
I want it to be cool.
I want workers to be respected. I want them to feel pride in what they do.
I want people to open their minds and hearts to different food cultures, and dining experiences.
I want people to support more local establishments.
I want local restaurants to challenge, but also support each other.
Otherwise, it becomes stale and stagnant.
If you’re not going to make it better, then I will.
Somehow, I will.
I am the biggest proponent of time. I’ve only been back living in the south for almost four months. This is tiny. But I am seeing potential, even among the naysayers and those who tell me this place isn’t ready. Or that I will fail. And that it is hard and expensive.
I know, I know, I know.
A place, just like a person, must keep challenging itself if it wants to grow.
I want to grow.
I want to grow here, truly. I don’t want to leave again because I can’t find what I need. The systems are not yet here, in many ways. But they are certainly on their way. You can hear it, sometimes. I see it, in little ways. People wanting more.
The South ain’t in no hurry to change, and I am not here for those reasons.
But it will start small, as it always does. With a few friends around a table with some ideas.
And who knows what it will turn into.
I just know I am ready. I’m ready for people here to live better, stronger lives. I want this for myself. I want this for my neighbor.
I feel the heat rising from my feet, and it’s a nice thing to feel. I know this sensation. Of being a little antsy, waiting for the right time to move. I love it. I love how it scares me but how it feels when you start to move.
Small moves, dude.