Baklava, the perfect ice breaker

I was planning to go away for the weekend to my husband’s annual cousins’ weekend, an event which started out years ago as a guys’ weekend, but which now includes the girls who want to join in.  I especially wanted to see my younger son who no longer lives at home and my nephew and his girlfriend who now live on the opposite coast.  I tried to get the time off from work but scrambling the schedule didn’t pan out, despite the generous efforts of teammates who were willing to switch shifts and cover for me.

I felt disappointed, but also looked forward to an open weekend around work, especially since I wasn’t scheduled to work on Sunday.  An invitation arrived via Facebook to a local musical gathering on Friday night which included the people who will be taking over the café building I once occupied.  I was tired after a busy Friday shift — which everyone agreed included more crazy customers than usual — but decided to at least stop in even though I couldn’t stay late with an early shift the following morning.

I am a late bloomer to the live music scene and possess little knowledge of bands that for many people defined their youth.  This was a Grateful Dead tribute; none of the songs on the playlist were familiar to me, but what great music!  The evening was so uplifting, I hated to leave when I knew I should.  People were talking about another party happening the next day, and the hostess, whom I knew from my café days, invited me to come.

Sleeping did not come easy, knowing how early I had to wake up, but despite that, work went well.  At lunch I mentioned the party to a co-worker and said I doubted I would go, so tired, although worrying if I didn’t go, I wouldn’t be invited in the future.  By shift end I felt so tired it was difficult driving home.  I laid down on a deck lounge chair and rested, noticing the dark clouds overhead didn’t match my phone’s insistence on 83 degrees and sunny all day.

The darkening skies mirrored my energy level.  Do I really want to go to a party?  Talk to people I don’t know after interacting all day with strangers at work?  Maybe I’m beyond the party scene, more comfortable just staying home as usual.  But then, there’s no party tomorrow, maybe I’ll be bored and sorry to have missed it.

The party was pot luck and I didn’t know what to bring, until I remembered a baklava pastry ready to bake in the freezer.  I never bake baklava straight from the freezer, would it turn out ok?  I always bake it a day ahead, would it be any good served warm?   The party started hours ago, would it still be going on by the time I baked and got there?  The pan was in the way in the freezer, why not just give it a try.

Where once I’d spend all day planning what to wear to a party, now I just changed from jeans to shorts, keeping on my work Polo.  I waited for the baklava to come out of the oven, by which time it was pouring outside with weather channel flash flood warnings and predicted hard rain all evening.  Would the party still be going on in this weather?

Thank goodness for GPS, I never would have found the place without it.  Cars were parked all over, my car’s reverse camera helped me back into a spot I hoped my Jeep could climb out of later.  So what if my hair completely frizzed out as I found my way into the house in the pouring rain with my warm baklava, good thing I was wearing flip flops.

The few people I knew welcomed me, as did a dazzling food table. Almost immediately, people came up to say how much they loved the baklava and remembered my café (nothing makes a good Greek happier than when someone likes what we cook).  I met a couple whose two daughters worked for me and so loved hearing how they’re doing now and that one of them is using what she learned at my shop in her current work.  Her mom also shared how my baklava was her father’s favorite treat in his last days.

And the music!  I must learn to play another instrument, maybe drums, maybe guitar, something!  I wanted to join these people who get together to play and sing and let it all out.  I felt the positive energy in every cell of my body.  This, I realized, was precisely the kind of “deep play” Martha Beck advises in her book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.  I could sense its effect.  My former, then seemingly sedate, café website designer, picked up playing bass a couple of years ago with his old high school band buddies and seems looser, liberated.  Me too, please!

Preparing to leave, I received a few more baklava kudos, and we laughed as one woman actually picked up and licked the empty pan (sugar is a drug!).  Oh positivity.  I can’t say when I’ve ever so enjoyed a party, and I gratefully thanked the host and hostess who invited me to always come (I will!).  The whole evening felt like a dance, somehow, floating through the evening from one conversation to another, just … being myself.

I slept in after a great night’s sleep looking forward to the entire free day ahead.  What shall I do?  I’d like to have breakfast at the diner, but go alone?  Sure, why not?

Goodbye 10 East Main

We were selling the building that once had housed my beloved coffee shop/bakery, BaklaJava.  Although I knew in my heart my time had passed for that adventure, I still felt melancholy closing the door for good.  As long as we owned the building, the possibility remained that I could do it again … if I wanted.

I hadn’t asked for time off to go to the closing, but it turned out I wasn’t working the scheduled day.  I asked my husband a couple of times if he needed me there, he said no, not really.  But that morning it was raining, precluding my usual walk on the track, so I decided to go along.

We stopped for gas along the way and my husband pumped.  He leaned into the car saying, “you like numbers, look at this.”  He had pumped 13.331 gallons of gas for a price of $33.31.   I am accustomed to the Universe communicating with me with numbers but this one was new on me.  I texted my psychic sister to ask what the numbers might mean.  Decision number, she said, could direct to completion.  I felt a message myself:  Pay attention!

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As we drove to the lawyer’s office, I felt a sadness creeping up in my chest that I hadn’t expected.  I’ve learned to let these feelings rise up, feel them fully and release rather than allow such to hang around and sneak up on me in unexpected ways.  The heaviness radiated, deepening as we approached the lawyer’s office.

We were last to enter the conference room, and I was surprised to see a younger man than I expected plus a couple I knew of in our area but did not know personally.  It turned out the three of them were together in the new venture, which would be a café of sorts.  Someone mentioned BaklaJava and the buyer’s attorney asked if it had been mine.  I solemnly nodded, yes.

I missed the entire business of signing over the building between my husband and the various attorneys and title insurer as I talked with the new owners about their plans.  I became filled with memories of the love and passion I had for that place, the sights, sounds, smells, the kids who worked with me, the customers who loved my then home away from home.  My heart lifted as the to-be café owners expressed appreciation for my former business and invited me to share in brainstorming and offer advice.   kevin2

The connections continued.  It turned out the three are musicians who play together and would be playing a Prince tribute in the coming month.  Would I like to come to a party?  Julie, the woman in the group is a doctor who’s also a writer with a published memoir.  The Universe said this isn’t an ending, but a pathway to something new and possibly wonderful.

I hugged the new building owner, wishing him all the best and offering any assistance to help assure his success.  As I was leaving, Julie said, “Don’t worry, it’s in good hands.”  No doubt.  And so am I.