This has been a strange year, to say the least. The trip through and into sobriety has been sobering, pun intended, to say the least. I asked Laura if this year had been good or bad today. She replied, “A little bad, a little good.” I think that just about sums it up.
We’ve bought a new house in a new place and we’re in the process of moving. Moving is emotionally trying. I have mixed feelings about it. I love the mountains with all my heart, and there is and always will be the nagging realization that I have left so much undone in the area that I call home. I’ll miss the cold mornings and the bear. Besides eating all our peaches and scaring the cat onto the roof of our shed, he never bothered anything. He’d probably be mad to know that little Nolan calls him a “Kitty.” He’s the biggest kitty I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure. I hope whomever purchases our place will just leave him be. We’re lucky to see him once a year, although he takes care of all the termites and deadfall around our place.
I’ll miss the mountains and the river, the sound of people camping and the smell of campfires at night, when zero pollution renders the sky as my ancestors must have seen it, clear and startling in it’s immensity and majestic mystery.
I’ll leave with the fondness of a relationship ending on a good note. I’m looking forward to the future and I’ve stopped worrying about the past. I’m already in love with the Bay, the people, the sense of community and the opportunity to be close to Laura’s family. If luck has it, I’ll buy some land that I’ve been looking at for years near where we live now in Appalachia, build a small cabin on it by hand, and visit during the winter and spring with Laura and Nolan. We’ll pick berries and wild herbs, roast our food in the wood stove and allow Nolan to roam the mountains as I did. He’ll have the best of both worlds.
In the meantime, I hope that this blog has helped someone with their own struggles with whatever may be troubling you. I wish that I had some words of true wisdom, but I’m still finding my own way. Just remember to live for the day, make the best of every single situation, don’t worry about traffic and plan for tomorrow. Don’t be identified by your past. Ignore expectations from other people. Set your own goals and stick by them. You may fall down along the way. If you do, start over. Above all, be honest. With yourself and with others. Speak carefully. You don’t know who you might help, or hurt with an inadvertent judgement call that should be kept to yourself.
(Authors Note: This is all that I am going to post in this medium from the nearly completed book “In the Weeds.” I’d like to think that it may be published one day, but that’s a one in a million shot. Who knows? I do know that it is time to put this away and move forward. I’m going to return to writing my normal stuff about travel, people, cooking, kitchens, babies and everything else. Thanks for following along!!! To all of you out there that were praying for me, thank you so much. Thank you, Laura, for being my wife. Thanks to my medical team, a truly wonderful group of women who bonded together to save my life. Thanks to all my family, my Aunt Lois, my Aunt Vickie, my Mom, my Momma Sue, my Dad, my Papa Friedel, the guys at UVA, my brothers James, John and Samuel, my sisters, Jessica and Sarah, the first great loves of my life. They were there every minute with me. Sarah, thanks for the squiggle fingers and berry picking! Jessica, I’m so sorry the road was closed! Keli Ratcliffe, thank you for believing in my sorry ass and helping me keep writing. Finally, to the one that allowed me the chance to get my life back: Chef Michael Rork. Thank you, thank you, thank you for hiring me when no one else would. For giving me the chance to redeem myself in my own eyes. For helping me remember the value of hard work and the love of great food. The day you hired me I could barely walk up the stairs for my interview. By the end I could hold my own on the line, albeit tenaciously. I’ll never forget 97 order in 45 minutes on Thanksgiving Day and your faith that I could do it. Chef Andrew: Thanks for daring to shove me and expect the best, even knowing my condition. Chef Kate, thanks for adopting me and watching after me when I was too sick to do it on my own. Chef Fidel, thanks for never letting up, never letting me quit, daring me to fail, and lighting a fire under my ass utilizing my greatest tool: Pure Rage. You’re good, my friend. Delores, thanks for every minute that you helped me and gave me advice. Rachel, Rihanna, Erica, Heather, Chef MJ and everyone else at Harvest, thank you so much for your faith and allowing me the mistakes I made. Everyone: Thanks. Sincerely, -RM)