It has been a long time since I last wrote.
Six months and five days, according to my brisk calculation.
But no matter. We’ve much catching up to do.
In the past six or eight months the restaurant that I dreamt up here and at my posts at The Atlanic has become a reality. Soul Food Mahanakorn now hums with commerce and conversation and sometimes chaos; and after one year of work I finally have found enough time to sit down and reflect on what has passed.
This is an exercise in writing, to see how well my memory serves me, because ultimately I’d like to put these collective ramblings into a book. Recipes cross-stitched in the manic fabric of opening one’s first restaurant. Or something like that.
The greatest change that I’ve experienced over the past year has been one of perspective. Not only how I interpret the spatial relationships between customers and servers, or workers and owners, but really, how I view the world. As a writer, I used to look in from without. Now, that has been flipped 'round.
A few weekends ago, sitting outside a bar I frequent after our service dies down, in those hours where waiters and bartenders and managers spill out onto streets full of people who are several hours ahead of them in terms of merriment, I was talking to a few friends. Most of them were writers. We traded stories. Of recent trips, political bullshit, drunken nights, single lives. I can’t remember what we spoke about, specifically. But as I said my piece, which I’m sure involved a tale of horror or surprise or (rarely) satisfaction within the four walls of my place of business, a friend said this, “Dude, I don’t mean to be a dick, but why don’t you tell a fucking story that doesn’t have something to do with your restaurant.”
One, when someone says “I don’t mean to be dick” they are most likely being a dick.
Two, he was right. I had nothing else to talk about. I had been locked up on one of three floors, 47 square meters each, for a year. I hadn’t gone out into the world, but the world had come to me. And smiled sweetly, or threatened to burn my goddamned shop down, or had thrown up all over the wall behind the toilet or gotten engaged at table three as what became their favorite song played or had simply paid and vanished.
I had shuttled back and forth between those other realms of market and living room and bed, but really, this last year of my life has been illuminated in the dusky light of carefully dimmed halogen or the fluorescent and flinty steel of the kitchen. It has a soundtrack, of familiar songs I know not only words but of stories to.
It was all that I had to talk about. And so I went on.
I will here, too.