My summer job is certainly not a “big” job as most would define it. I don’t have a desk or a blackberry or an iPad or an expense account. I no longer stay at the Four Seasons. I’m not entrusted to spend millions of clients’ dollars on questionably effective advertising campaigns. I make far from 6-figures a year.
And I’ve never been happier with where I work.
I am an integral part of a small team that makes and serves outstanding food to hungry people. The work is hard and honest. The food is lovingly prepared by sensitive, caring hands. No one is plotting to subvert my career ambitions. We help each other out. Each person’s success depends on the others’ pulling their weight. I have developed friendships with regular customers. The view is amazing.
When I think about my “big” job and ask myself if I miss it or if I’m happy with my decision, the only answers I can come up with are “hell no” and “absolutely,” respectively.
I’m responsible for feeding people. There are few jobs more important or “big” than that, are there?
The noise from the hype was almost deafening. And this from one who does not watch television and checks web news maybe once a day.
There were anxious calls, texts and posts from well-meaning friends and family. Emails came flooding in.
But here on the Island (as some call it), you would not have known that a category 3 hurricane had Southern New England in its sites. Life went on. There was money to be made, houses to clean, bars to tend, tables to wait, openings to attend. Only the opportunistic hardware store boarded up. On Thursday. Some call it prudent preparations. I call it marketing.
Then Sunday morning rolled around. Robert and I arrived at Devon’s at almost the same time and looked at each other doubtfully. The wind was raging at 40 mph, gusting occasionally to 50 or 60. Devon came up early and asked us our opinion, should he open or call it a day? He listened to both of our reasonings and quickly decided to shut it down. I was shocked, as Julia, the chef, had warned me the day before that his decision making could be difficult for us all. We cleared everything off the porch, moved the tables inside and battened down the proverbial hatches. It took all of 30 minutes.
The rest of my day was a nice surprise of a gift after working two doubles and partying just a tad. I had coffee with the girls on the aforementioned porch. Friends dropped by and we scraped together a nice egg sandwich breakfast. The wind howled and gained strength and we eventually dispersed. I came home and slept for 3 hours. I got up at 2, checked the web and watched the sea roil and the trees strain under the steady tropical storm-force winds. My neighbors told me of the sailboat that had beached across the street. The power finally went out around 3 and we gathered at Joel’s for storm drinks. I got Dev to come out and join in the fun. Grudges and ill-feelings between neighbors were set aside.
The rest of the day was spent drinking and socializing. The two bars that were open were full of Townies I haven’t seen at the same time all summer due to varying work schedules. The Boat Slip had enough back up power to run the ice machines and the DJ booth. I danced with many of my summer friends. It was a fun and festive, a much-needed and a well-deserved break.
The wind blew through the night. The power came back on. I slept a deep, sound sleep. Happy.
And this is what greeted me this morning from the back porch at work:
Thanks for the concern, y’all. I’m fine. I was very sore and uncomfortable for 3 or 4 days but yesterday I felt like doing cartwheels to celebrate the lack of pain! Today is even better. Still waiting on one helluva bruise!
Carnival is the biggest, craziest, most well-attended event of the summer. The crowds are fun and unaffected. The faux Mardi Gras theme always inspires grumbles and extreme creativity. Big, little, young, old, gay, straight, Townie, tourist all party together. It is a supposedly wonderful week.
I’ve never liked it.
And yesterday proved no different.
I arose early to cast off any past Carnival demons, picked up a bagel at Farland -the local all-in-one grocery and made a beeline to Meg and Mo’s to help them decorate for their annual Carnival Party, a lovely benefit for the local art museum. I saw several friends as well as my landlord en route to the store. People were pleasant and the town had an expectant hum about it.
I arrived at the Girls’ house and got to work. Nathan and Terry were already there and we set about hanging the many decorative items Meg and Mo had purchased to deck the house according to the “Can’t Stop the Music” theme.
We made good progress. I took on the task of hanging LPs and CDs from the porch ceiling. One after another, I climbed the ladder and ensured the ancient music media were well hung.
The ladder only caused me minor delay as I stopped to move it and reconnect its collapsible pieces.
And then it happened.
As I scooted the ladder, on whose last rung I was standing, over to hang the next trinket, its not-connected parts gave way and I found myself falling. Falling through a void of which I knew not where or how I would land.
I was extremely coherent of the fact that there was not longer anything supporting my weight. I was exactly clear on what just transpired. And I fell.
And I seemed to fall for minutes.
I remember thinking clearly and calmly about what was going to happen next. Was I going to meet the ground on the other side of the porch, some 9 feet away and quickly approaching? Was my head going to be split by the rickety antique bench I had hastily moved? How would my spine actually connect with the 3-inch wide railing and would it remain intact?
Then my brain went blank and I think instinct took over. The wincing pain of hitting the rail with the lower Lats and upper waist area of my right side jarred me into the reality. At some point, I think I rolled, extending my right arm to break my fall and in doing so, saved my body from permanent, debilitating damage.
And it all took place in a matter of meer moments. Not even two seconds.
Aside from the embarrassment and the pain of the fall, I was genuinely frightened. The thoughts and questions I asked myself while airborne are still disturbing. My summer came crashing down with me. The potential and promise of striking out on my own and starting my life anew rushed up to meet me like the bushes and the deck railing below. It all hung motionless for a millisecond.
I assume and trust that the lessons of my fall are to make sure the foundation on which I stand is firm. Then to be careful, be creative and trust the instincts that may from time to time take over. To trust my history. And then, of course, to listen to lessons that you are taught daily and listen closely.
I think for anyone that writes, sunsets and their description can border on cliche’. I’ve tried very hard to avoid describing the Cape Cod sunset ad nauseum. In all honesty, pretty much every night here features an amazing light show as the sun sinks behind the town and lights up the water, boats and the Cape to the South and West.
But last night’s was extraordinary. It had been mostly cloudy all day, spitting rain now and then even. But around 7:30, as the sun reached its lowest angle, the light shined beneath the cloud layer like a flashlight under a blanket. The rays were direct and intense and bright. A collective hush fell over the Town as everyone immediately took note of the spectacle before them. People climbed to rooftops and decks, they gathered on the shore and the pier, cameras in hand. And then, the most amazing thing happened, a rainbow formed over the harbor, stretching from Truro across to the West End. The gasp of wonder was audible.
I am so thankful for moments like these. They make me pause and consider the beauty of this life, this world. I feel insignificant. I give thanks.
Sorry it’s been so long. The iMac’s keyboard got an unexpected dousing during Sunday’s surprise blow. All’s well that 86 dollars and FedEx cures. Actually, could Apple design a more beautiful keyboard? I think not.
So, the last week or so has been super, super busy. But, in the best possible way:
* My folks departed 10 days ago, on a Tuesday morning. It was bittrersweet as we had such a nice, connected visit. It was not without its arguments (we ARE Browns, afterall), but I truly loved seeing them. We ate well, went on a full-breeching-tail-slapping-everyone’s-doing-it-31-whale watching tour, watched an amazing sunset or two, drank a little too much and generally enjoyed exploring my new town.
* EriK was here for two full weeks. And I gotta tell ya, there’s never been an easier guest. I barely knew he was here….:-) I cried harder when he said farewell.
* And then this week…..began with with amazing, head-clearing, self-affirming sex. Melded into furious, insecure cooking and wedding arranging. Then finished with a JohnBrown prepared meal for 10 of the most lovely, geniune and pleasant people I’ve ever had the priviledge of serving. I cried today when I was paid. A signal event, for sure.
* And then tonight…..extremely casual….tea dance with Joel….a Gift of a sunset….unexpected friends on a harborside bar….an amazing bbq sandwich from the The Red Shack….and red wine.
* Life is good. The unexplored and unexpected is certain worth more than the “uns.” Go for it y’all. It’s amazing what one can learn.
One not insignificant thing about Provincetown is that, for whomever is here, Love is not at all difficult to find. Depending on how you define “Love,” it’s available everywhere: from the casual greeting of acquaintances on the street to the warm hug of a close friend to the not-so-infrequent roll in the hay with some stranger from Darien, Connecticut. People here are happy. They eat well. They drink. And then….they do what’s naturally next. They Love.
And they Love a lot.
One shade of Love that I had been mildly aware of before this summer, was the casual, yet borderline serious, crush. For me, it could take the form of the overweight lady that owns Angel Foods…..or the Pedi-Cab driver whose brick-like calves are granite hard….or even the youthful geriatric owner of the Lobster Pot, who unbeknownst to most of us, not only runs P-Town’s most successful restaurant, but also has a “family” of 20 or 30 Jamaican immigrants that she takes care of and looks over and provides employment for. None of these crushes will be requited; they are what they are and I enjoy them for their “never-t0-manifest” qualities.
And so it is once again, that I have a Summer Crush. Devon. The namesake owner of my place of employ.
This man is totally not my type. He’s an attractive, small-framed Jewish/Chinese man with dark hair and slight build. He’s almost overly effeminate. He has amazing tattoos. On the floor, he’s somewhat manic and hyper-aware of what’s happening in his restaurant. He’s relentless. He never ceases to notice mistakes and constantly revises what were Standard Operating Procedures. He does not settle for less. He’s 4000 miles-a-minute. I would never had been attracted to him in the past. There’s too much to be off-putting.
But I have a huge, huge summer crush on this man.
And so it is with so many people in this town. They’re open to whatever. They live in the moment on so many fronts. I’ve heard from more than one person about their pan-sexual adventures. Or pan-physical. Or pan-mental. White bread American would never think of finding an amputee attractive. But here someone does. Here Trannies hook up with straight boys on a regular basis. I came *this* close to a 3-way with two lesbians.
Not that this behavior does not happen off-Cape; it most certainly does. But here, people are honest about their attractions and their proclivities. They are not ashamed and will share with you their latest conquest. It’s above-board and…..in a way, unbelievably healthy.
Surprisingly to me, I’m OK with this summer Love. It’s refreshing. It’s nice. And above all else, it’s honest.