Oh, snail

Dear Feastlings,
When we had our doors closed save for the speakeasy slot you could order takeout through, there were moments where it felt like collapse was inevasible, for sure. But there were also moments where it felt like it might not be so bad to just keep doing it that way forever. By the end of any given day, I couldn’t say where the tally ended up. Were we doomed, or were we blessed? Were there more kindly people coming in to make sure the staff here was eking out a living, or more people stopping in to complain that their vacation plans were ruined because they had to remain stateside rather than take their annual trip to Europe as they picked up dinner or a bottle of wine? By the end of most days, the jury, then as now, was out.

I had a well-meaning fellow today ask whether we were back to normal yet, and one last night telling me how good it was to see us maxed out, and it only reminded me that while the pandemic has affected close to every human on the planet, we each see it through a unique lens. I can understand why someone who’s sitting in the dining room on a Friday night at 7:00 might thing everything was once again coming up roses and daffodils, but I know better. Well-meaning fellow number one was surprised that I estimated two years for a return to business comparable to what we were doing before the pandemic, but he’s not privy to what goes on behind the curtain- the bump in halibut prices (yes, there’s halibut tonight, and if supply lines do us a favor, we’ll have it again tomorrow;) the fact that someone who interviews, gets good references and appears excited for the job still has a one in four chance of showing up on their first day; the unhealthy number of people who feel justified in swindling a beleaguered business (I’m talking to you, Mo Chowdhu**, and wondering if I can post your entire name, since I think you’re a hateful swine.) It’s just that appearances only reflect a shard of the big picture, so if you’re the blind man who’s got the elephant by the ear, your version of an elephant will look rather different than that of the blind man who’s got the elephant by the trunk, the leg, the tusk or the tail.

Ultimately, whether it takes six months (well-meaning guy number one’s estimate,) two years (my own cautious estimate,) or five years (in case I was optimistic with my two-year guess,) we’ll eventually get back to some semblance of normal, pay back the chunks of debt we’ve incurred, and maybe put back what I’ve seized from my personal savings. I don’t speak Japanese, but Kobyashi Issa said it best, by all translators’ accounts:

Oh, snail,
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly

We’ll get there, but know that how long it takes us shouldn’t be based on what you see on Friday night at seven. Likewise, it shouldn’t be based on what you see on Tuesday afternoon a three, either. We’ll climb our own Mount Fuji, but slowly, slowly. And I say this to remind you, and to remind myself, that whatever you see on the surface doesn’t necessarily indicate the reality of the situation for the person in the thick of it. That goes for nearly everyone you run into. Has the person with whom you’ve lost your patience lost something of their own? A friend? A water heater? A wallet? A soulmate? People lose all of them, every day, even when it’s not been exacerbated by a year and a half of pandemic living, and it’s rough enough then, let alone now.

Me, I’m going to pause when I’m dealing with people and do my best to mentally run through the stresses they don’t know I’m going through, and then imagine that for each and every one, they’ve got one too. And we’ll see how I do. I know I’ve bitten off more than I can chew again this month, and I’m as apt as ever to fall short of the goal I’m setting for myself here. But I have no business hoping that people will understand my own stress and pain if I’m not making the effort understand theirs.

My intention this week, as I keep all the figurative pots of Casa Alitas, Youth on Their Own and Child and Family Resources simmering alongside the staff, guests and purveyors we deal with every day, is to pause for a second and realize that everyone’s dealing with something above and beyond what they normally deal with right now, and I should take it easy on them.

As to the less therapeutic and more utilitarian purpose of this email, here’s a reminder that tomorrow we’ll be hosting a Zoom wine tasting, and yes, we’re still aiming to begin in-person tastings soon, but no, we’re still not logistically ready to accomplish that. So here’s a link to the description of the tasting, and come tomorrow, you’ll be getting a link to the tasting itself.

Trust fall

Everything else is just enjoying a little Alaskan Halibut or one of another dozen dishes or two, and you can catch a glimpse of the October menu here:


and the wine and cocktail list here:


I’ll see you soon, and I’ll try to remember that you’re dealing with something that I have no idea whatsoever how hard it is to deal with. But I’ll know it’s hard, and I’ll fill your cupped hands with kindness to the best of my ability.



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