Clearly, I shaped up. A year or so after that conversation, I was in my third class with her. That was when she took a few moments at the beginning of lecture to tell everyone “When you go home, remember to GO HOME.”
I especially remember her describing a particular “ritual” she had when she got home. She used to make a lavender-scented sugar handscrub for herself. It was her finish line, so to speak- when she got home, hung up her uniform and used that scrub, that was it.
One of my favorite memories between us was during this same course. I had had a miserable day in the kitchen, and berated myself (as us young people do/did) publicly on Facebook. I had forgotten that Chef Chelius had friended me on there- and would read it.
The next day, she called me to her desk.
“You had a rough day yesterday, Matt.”
“Yes Chef, I’m sorry- today will be better.”
“I certainly hope so, it was an interesting status you posted.”
“…Oh. Um.. yes, Chef.”
“Matt, do you remember what I told you two years ago, standing over by the flour bins?”
“… Yes Chef- that if I didn’t shape up, I’d be out of the program.”
“Yes, Matt- and you’re still here. You’re going to get an ‘A’ in this class. You’re doing fine- it’s just food, Matt. Remember to go home.”—————–
Flash forward, from 2013 to now. Nearly 5 years after that conversation, and sometimes I still forget to go home.
As I write this, I am sitting in the Horse Brass Pub, behind a short glass of Rauchbier Weizen- a creamy smoky tasting beer I am increasingly fond of. I am on Day 4 of nine-day work week, and I have been berating myself for the last two days or so for not working the way I feel I should be.
Not at the cafe- work has been rough for the last few days, but I feel confident in my accomplishments there and how I handle my shifts. It’s THIS- the blog, and being the BHB. I want it to be more a part of my future career, and I am frustrated- a lack of creativity, a lack of energy… just the feeling of lack.
“But your thoughts will soon be wandering the way they always do
When you’re riding sixteen hours and there’s nothing much to do
And you don’t feel much like riding, you just wish the trip was through“
It is because I forget to “go home.”
Between baking at the cafe, and then coming home to research and write, I go from one office to another. There isn’t even a change of uniform to mark between the two (as I no longer have to wear a uniform at my current job.) There is nothing like Chef Chelius’s sugar scrub anymore- no ritual to mark the distinction between work and the rest of my life- simply because my life is increasingly wrapped up IN my work.
“Ah Here I am, on a road again
There I am, up on the stage
Here I go, playing the star again
There I go, turn the page“
That is maybe why I enjoy writing in cafes and bars the most. That may be why I can write this all down now- I am in the midst of my little Rauchbier Ritual. The “quitting time beer o’clock beer” as I call it on my Instagram. Sitting down and nursing a beer tells me that my time is my own again- to work or do whatever I please with.
“Later in the evening as you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers ringin’ in your head
You smoke the day’s last cigarette, remembering what she said…”
Remember to go home, people,
and of course-