Earlier today I went to The Curve to look for some things for the restaurant and have lunch, after which I went home for my workout session with my personal trainer. One of the things I love about Mark is that even though he is a firm trainer, he is also a fair one, and knows how to work around little blips like sleep deprivation and my ACL- and PCL-ridden knees. So he knew five seconds into my first set of lunges that my knees are a little busted from working long hours over the last few days, but he knew to cushion the blow by saying, “You’re definitely more than fit enough to work long hours, but maybe lay off the heels a little? You’re not 17 anymore.”
Then he angled his head a little and said, “You look like you’ve lost weight after this past weekend, though!”
After I reveled in that observation — mainly because I didn’t even have to ask him if I look thinner from all the running around I’ve been doing in the last couple of weeks — I thought for a moment and realized that he was right: I’m not 17 anymore.
The restaurant has been open for all of four days, and just from being here all day every day, I’ve gleaned a fair number of things. These are just the most significant ones:
Time changes everything. Very few people know this, but when I was 17 years old, my father opened a restaurant in our old neighborhood. To this day I suspect that he timed the opening for November 30, just two days after my school-leaving certificate exam ended, because he had planned for me to run it all along while he oversaw the kitchen. And run it I did, from the day it opened right up until I moved to Buffalo for my Bachelor’s degree. Those were two years of my life that I’ll never get back, but it taught me to be unyielding in business and to be shrewd of the people around me, and I’m eternally grateful for that.
But that was 15 years ago, and to say that times have changed everything would be a gross understatement. Back then, all I had to do was be in the restaurant, make sure everyone had ordered and been served, keep the money safe, and yell at the meat and ice vendors for consistently being late. Today, even though I don’t handle the operations of this restaurant, I have my own business to manage as well, and I control all our social media platforms. I now fully appreciate how much work it is to own, operate and market a business all on one’s own. Were it not for my ability to work better when I multitask, I would be even grumpier than I already am.
Age changes everything. When I was 17, 18 and 19, running my father’s restaurant was the most significant part of my life, and even though sometimes it felt like it had taken over my life completely, the truth was that I still had the energy to attend classes, have some semblance of a social life, and run the restaurant all at the same time. Now, just a few months shy of my 32nd birthday, I don’t have the energy to do anything except go to bed once I leave the restaurant. It may have something to do with the fact that I go home at some unearthly hour, because I have to be in the restaurant for as long as my friends are there, but I don’t remember the last time I fell asleep so fast or slept so badly.
I must remain childless. For the last few years I’ve made peace with my decision not to have kids, because I always suspected that I would never find the right man in time (I turned out to be right, because I was already 29 when I did find him), and because I’ve always been terrified that I’ll be a bad mother. Now that I work all day every day, I am surer than ever that I can never have kids, and my cats have shown me this. I’ve placed so much importance on my work that I’m hardly ever home, and when I do go home Offa makes it clear that he’s not happy with me at all, and it’s the only time in my life that I’ve ever felt genuinely guilty about anything. I don’t think I would be able to live with the guilt of leaving human children at home to go off to work, yet I don’t think I could ever give up my career to be a mother, so the fairest option would be to not have any human children at all.
Stupid is as stupid does. This needs no further elaboration.