It's time. No, scratch that, it's PAST time. For what, you ask?
Time for another blog post.
Time for a change in approach, focus, purpose, commitment.
Time for the next phase - in my career, in my life, in my endless investigation of how I can best help the world around me and be in service of others.
It's time to move forward. And for me, for now, that means leaving Seattle.
I love my Emerald City dearly. We are forever intertwined and I will always call it home. The next time I live in Seattle, everything about it will be different for me in the best way possible, just as it was the last time I moved back. The city, the people, the food, the love, the weather and the rain have all been so very good to me. And even though I don't want a bunch of people moving in on my city while I'm gone, I'll sing its praises everywhere I go (as I always do).
So................what's this all about?!
The short version is that a little more than a year and a half ago, I realized I needed to admit to myself that I was meant to focus on my true passion for cooking and teaching people. I gave myself an ultimatum to fully make the conversion in career and life. I met that goal/ultimatum with a week to spare. Although I had been cooking and getting back into the field over the past year, it was time to shift into the culinary field full time. That was right about the time of my last blog post in the middle of December in 2014.
So I struggled through the hard work of moving away from the amazing team I had worked with for 9 years, the city I felt was "mine", the deep and meaningful daily friendships and rituals I had come to love so dearly, and basically everything I knew and had grown comfortable having as "my life".
I'll spare you the boring details of countless months of organization, research, late nights, early mornings, and countless middle-of-the-night cold sweats. In December of 2014 I moved into a new lifestyle for 6 months of working part time at my existing marketing strategy agency and began working part time in kitchens around Seattle as a stage and cook. Between December and the end of June 2015, that shift continued to move towards cooking full time, and there were countless weeks where I worked 7 days a week and said "No" to outings with friends and family so I could learn as much as humanly possible.
Also during this time, I asked myself repeatedly what I wanted to do next, after the six months of transition was complete. My true interest long term is in food fundamental education, something I'll explain more in future blog posts. But in order to be a proficient teacher, I need to be a stellar student. I had also previously put a vacation on hold when I realized I would be leaving my job to study for free in kitchens. That vacation was in Spain. After a little straight talk with myself, I realized I needed to allow myself the chance to learn and travel and study abroad - something I'd always wanted to do but wasn't able to make happen for various reasons during my studies at Reed.
And thus a plan was born - spend up to a year abroad in Spain (and also.....Italy? France? Germany? who knows!) studying the culture, culinary traditions and progressive industry movements to understand more global (and local, really) best practices that will help influence my work at large. If I can become a living, breathing, walking encyclopedia of food education, cooking techniques, and food science fundamentals, I can begin to impact change in the way people cook for themselves at home, empowering them to understand and utilize food in a sustainable, actionable, fun and engaging way.
Certainly this is a large and ambitious goal, and there are many details that, as I said, I'll explain in future posts. But there's no time like the present to grab life by the balls and go for it (and if we've ever met in person, you know I'm not exactly the wallflower type). So I got my ducks in a row, began figuring out what Spain would/could look like, and made it happen.
Yes, indeed, I am currently typing this to you from the terrace of the house I'm staying at north of Barcelona in a charming beach town, with the sun pouring in through the shades during siesta while the breeze climbs over the foothills we're perched upon and I take the occasional gaze out to the Mediterranean while I sip my white Rioja. No, seriously, that's what I'm doing. RIGHT. NOW. But I'll get to that later.....
Back to the last week in Seattle. Soon, the week was upon me, and it was a fabulous whirlwind of work, errands, friends, family and fun. No sleep. Definitely zero sleep. But lots of coffee because hi.
My last week was admittedly totally insane, unreasonable and if a friend had told me they were going to do this, I would've first laughed in their face, then shook them by the shoulders, bought them a drink and told them to snap the EFF out of it.
Saturday and Sunday, June 20+21: Father's Day weekend
My dad had recently acquired a sweet ride in the form of what I'm calling the LifeBus. It's half RV, half tour bus, and 100% exactly what my dad was looking for. I guess the nomadic apple doesn't fall far from the tree?
He came to town to see me for Father's Day weekend before I shoved off the West Coast for a while and we spent a rad 24hrs together. It also happened to be my last night working Garde Manger at Cuoco (the Italian Trattoria I'd been working at most recently), so I had him meet my dearest friends, Adam and Troy, for dinner.
The next day, I took my dad on a little Seattle Sunday Funday adventure. We rode the bus, we walked the waterfront, we took the ferry to Bainbridge Island. I took him to lunch at the Hitchcock Deli and showed him the first restaurant I staged in under my good friend and mentor, Chef Brendan McGill.
We walked the docks, window shopped, talked about Europe, life, goals, family, purpose and legacy and in general, how much hard work goes into doing the right thing for your life. My dad is rad and it was the best Father's Day I can remember spending with him in a real long time. Saying goodbye this time around was something I wasn't prepared to do, hadn't given much thought to while preparing for his visit, and frankly, I didn't do a great job of when the time came. I hope I made up for it with my home cooked meals, self-deprecating jokes and abundance of questions like any daughter worth her salt.
Monday and Tuesday, June 22 + 23: Last days at EMM
Then it was time to wrap up the last few pages of my nine years of tenure at my firm. I had worked at Extra Mile Marketing (an insanely successful and agile small team that works with the largest Fortune 100 technology companies) with people that had become my family. We know each other's families, likes and dislikes, idiosyncrasies, and enough inside jokes to last multiple lifetimes. These people are just the best.
In true form, they took me to lunch to say farewell and good luck, and they ALSO took me out to celebrate my nine year anniversary which took place shortly before I left. They gave me a generous early birthday present since I'd be in Spain during my birthday, and generally, they made sure my final days were full of laughter.
Wednesday and Thursday, June 24+25: All the errands
Two days of picking things up, dropping things off, taking things to storage, making lists, piles, pawning things off on friends, eating odds and ends from my shelf in the sublet house. Having beers, dinners, brunches and lunches with friends, family and mentors.
Running. I did a LOT of running. Gotta clear that head, kids.
Soaking up my precious neighborhood one last time over coffee, walks, random sanity breaks, and swinging in the hammock in my backyard oasis became my second life and I got pretty good at it, there at the end.
Friday and Saturday, June 26+27: Family and friends
I mean.....I had a LOT to pack still and way more unfinished tasks than I was willing to admit. But I wasn't going to let that stop me from enjoying my last weekend in the city. After all, I had already moved out of my apartment into a sublet, so that helped cut down the insanity.
But it was really just a hilarious game of Whack a Mole. As soon as I had nixed two tasks, three more popped up in their places.
I demanded I take some time to chill the hell out.
So I had one last great dinner on the town with my fellow farm troublemaker and partner in crime, Dev. Dev took me under his wing out at Prosser Farms earlier this Spring for a while (I'm sure he felt it was an epic eternity) and we wanted to make sure we had one last hurrah. We landed at Bitter/Raw upstairs inside of the new (stunning) Lark space. Had some oysters, chatted with (the incredibly talented and super nice guy) Chef John Sundstrom for a bit, before eating everything on the menu. (Not joking, we ate almost the entire thing, if memory serves).
After stuffing our faces, I skipped across town and caught one last live, late night set from some of my faves. The Dip is a collage of undeniable talent, soft spoken friends and old souls that JUST. WON'T. QUIT.
They recently released their first full self titled debut album, which was much anticipated by their steadfast and loyal fans. They treated me to every song in their playbook and a sweet Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings cover. These guys. Seriously.
The following morning, my mom and step dad came to lend much needed helping hands getting the remaining items tossed into storage. I plied them with coffee, flowers from my garden and lame jokes. They gave me numerous hugs and bittersweet tears of joy for my departure.
That night was my final Saturday night in the city and I had some folks come together to share drinks and swap stories that usually included me making a fool of myself or spilling something. Otherwise known as my favorite memories! Friends, family and colleagues showered me with hugs, kind words, thoughtful gifts and their remaining Euros (which saved my ass at LEAST three times the first week here in Spain, no joke).
Sunday, June 28: Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin
My last morning I was humbled by my dearest friends and family putting together a crazy impressive brunch at the beautiful and newly renovated loft of Troy and Adam. It was so relaxing I was beside myself. They truly showed me off in style, and I felt like a million bucks.
Having the fantastic send off in the morning and saying goodbye to my family, especially my sister (my heart) made it hard to focus, but focus I did. With the unwavering help of my ride or die sidekick, Liz, we somehow got all the packing done, snacks and wine consumed and found 10 minutes to spare and sit on the front porch. She is a freaking wizard.
Penultimate round of see-you-soons, and the boys (Troy and Adam) had me in the smart car with my luggage as we screamed down I-5 like a clown car on its way to opening night for Barnum and Bailey.
Off to NY I went, to spend a little time seeing friends, reentering the atmosphere of the Big Apple and its current food scene and giving myself a little space and time buffer post-Seattle, pre-Spain....