There’s something really beautiful about that which you can’t control. Maybe it’s the “ticking clock” mentality, but, the older I grow, the more appreciative I am of Things That Are. Or, maybe I’ve had enough of Things That Could Be.
I’m a controller, not to be confused with “controlling”. Be it relationships, work, friendships- people make their own decisions, and, if they’re lucky, face their own outcomes. I don’t believe in fate, divine intervention, luck. I bet on myself, rarely others. Fairly self aware, I know my strengths and shortcomings. I play my own odds.
Lately, though, it sometimes seems the investment I’ve made in myself is a poor one. Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before:
I’m not tired. At least, not in the manner many are. I am downright BEAT, and Life is standing in the corner, throwing tacks at me. It’s a slow flow, but I’m honestly bleeding out. I’ll spare you the majority of the details- we all have problems. You’re not here to shoulder my load.
Five years ago I made a decision. I was sitting in my 2 bedroom apartment, which was empty, save for a mattress on the floor. I had nothing but a place to sleep and $14/hr. That was my choice. I was 5 days removed from a two story home, a girlfriend I shared a child with, and I decided- no matter what it took, I would be here. I would literally die for this, if that was the stipulation.
I was happy. I left something toxic, for the idea of something better. Within a month I had a room set up for my son, a couch and a TV. Within 6, a car and promotion. I poured everything I had in to digging myself out of that hole, and I couldn’t have been happier. I went to work with a chip on my shoulder, I went home with a smile on my face.
Between then and now, I’ve had a lot. I had a BMW, a busy restaurant, a weekly dinner club that paid me an absurd amount of money (you honestly wouldn’t believe me if I told you the amount). I had another child. I bought a house.
I bet on myself, and I fucking won. I had expendable income, and, believe, that income was expended.
And then, I had nothing. Again.
I had totaled my car, fucked my relationship up, moved out of my house, left the restaurant group, quit/got fired from another job, took a job line cooking, and had exactly zero. I had a place to sleep, a small amount of money and a plan.
I did the thing I shouldn’t have done- I rebooted a failed concept. I tried again. I put things on credit, I bartered, I put every CENT I had in to it. Literally. When Mirin opened, I had $11 to my name. No shit. $11, a couple refrigerators full of product, and a smile on my face. I bet it all on the idea that This Time Would Be Different.
I wasn’t wrong. It is different. I’m actually here. No, I mean, like, right now. I’m sitting outside of Mirin, smoking the longest cigarette you’ve ever seen, trying to psych myself up for a dinner rush that may or may not come. I worked 90 hours last week, 90 the week before, 100 prior to that. There’s a limit, you know. A limit to exactly how many hours you can work in a single week while remaining productive. Everyone has a different limit, but, over my 12 years in this industry, I can give you My Number.
That’s how many hours I can work, remain sane, healthy, and remotely productive. I’m obliterating that number, week after week, and it’s not because I want to. I have to. I have no choice, because the math isn’t adding up. I’m paying bills the day they’re due for shut off, or, occasionally, the day they actually are.
Here’s another number- 20,200.
That’s my debt. Doesn’t seem insurmountable, yet, many days, it feels that way. If I’m lucky, I might pay that off this year. We might do $2,000 in sales tonight. Or we might do $20. I honestly have no idea. Not even, like, a working estimate. I’m not betting on either, but I’m counting on myself to be here tomorrow. Tomorrow, next month, next year. I’m counting on myself. That decision I made 5 years ago- that could very likely become a thing. If I keep going at this rate, I very well MAY die. Probably not immediately. Definitely before 50, I’d say. I think that’s just… objective.
I’m not stressing, though. Right here, in this moment, I’m not worried about the what-ifs. I’m not worried about losing my restaurant, my house, my car, my daughter, dying- I’m not focusing on Things That Could Be. I’m focusing on Things That Are.
It’s 81 degrees and sunny. 5 years ago, I doubt I’d notice.
What a beautiful fucking day.
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