you think you know part II

She got out of the car and she had a red sweater on and red hair. She was so beautiful and I shit you not, when I was introduced I KNEW I was in deep, deep trouble. I have no idea how else to say this, but when I met Mae, I knew I would marry her. I mean, the minute we locked eyes I knew. So needless to say the rest between us is history, as she felt the same way I did. I brought her home to meet my mother, and at the time Mae was a vegetarian. My poor mother had no idea what to cook for her, she would cook rice in chicken broth and then tell Mae to pull the pieces of chicken and ham out of it and tada! it was now a vegetarian dish! It was a trip, and Mae was kind enough to tolerate it in exchange for some delicious Puerto Rican home cooked meals. At this point my sister started going in and out of mental hospitals due to her now severe schizophrenia. Mae met her in the height of her mental illness when one look she gave you would give you the chills. Mae’s absolute calmness through my fucked up and dysfunctional family was a sure sign to me that I had found the right person in my life. She never judged any of us, ever. My mother took about a year to truly warm up, but there was one day where she said to me “Gabriel, I can now die a calm and happy mother because you found someone that loves you as much as I do and you are happy. This is all a mother ever wants for her child.”
I was still working 40+ hours a week as a waiter and trying to finish my last 15 credits of college, driving home once every other week, and sending money home when I could. I would try to pay for as many things as I could for my mom, since at this point she was now living on 12K a year. I have no idea how she pulled it off all those years, but she did. She would make pasteles at Christmas and sell them by the dozen. I graduated with a decent GPA and got my Ithaca College medal and my mother called EVERYONE in Puerto Rico to tell them I had made it through college. She was so proud. I was astonished I finished considering everything that had happened in the time I was in school.
I had a hell of a time finding a job after school finished, and so Mae and I gave it a shot in Ohio for the summer. I did everything from hotel work, to Walden books to food service trying to make something of it. It was unbelievable how shitty our time was out there that summer. No work. Reluctantly we moved back to Ithaca and stopped at a little coffee shop with a Help Wanted sign. I was so afraid I would have to go back to making bagel sandwiches at the local bagel shop like I did through high school…but I needed a job to pay the bills, and to save up for the future. I went in and asked the guy if they required experience with coffee and he was a bit snarky but obviously a smart dude, “nah, we will train you”. I took the application and filled it out.
I was interviewed in a couple of days, and started right away. It wasn’t easy work, it was fast paced, lots of new info to learn very quick and I had to be quick on my feet. My years as a waiter at a fancy Thai joint certainly helped me with the quickness of the movements and the precision of being a barista. I spent a couple of weeks learning the history of coffee, the process of building drinks and then actually building them. I kid you not when I say, that it changed my life. I never realized how intense coffee was until that moment. I knew I wanted more. I liked the interactions with locals, and I loved making beautiful drinks. I was hooked. We had a teeny apartment, and we didn’t make much money, but I thought I was headed down the right path. My mother was somewhat confused, because I had just finished college and now worked at the local coffee shop…but I knew if I stuck with it, something good would come of it some day.


~ by Me on August 4, 2009.

One Response to “you think you know part II”

  1. thanks for writing your novel gB! I enjoy getting to know you more. It was already obvious you were amazing… but it’s nice to know why.
    part III coming up?…

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