The Duality of Love

I began writing a note to my girlfriend Ester before service starts.

“Esther. I’m so sorry for being almost a week late, but I just want to unpack what we talked about (or argued about) before you left for New York to see your grandfather. For the past decade, I’ve been working non-stop, that I want to be that relentless, passionate chef because this is what I want to do. I want to be a better version of myself. But in reality, while that might be the case, I also created the worse version of myself. I got into mindless arguments with you, and missed weddings, funerals, birthdays, and anniversaries. Our anniversary. And for that, I’m truly sorry. For the past decade, I was always the ruthless cook that wanted to get what I want, no matter the cost. I’ve been rude and bitter to everyone until you came into my life. You helped me break my bad habits and changed me for the better good. But sometimes, the bitterness comes back and it’s affecting our relationship. You’re the only person I know who that seeing the best version of myself and the worse version of myself. But in the end, you’re the few people I know that still support and believe in me. Regardless of our situation. I would do anything to get your love back. I hope you can still accept me for who I am. Travel safe and I hope you like the emerald pendant I gave you 2 weeks after our anniversary 

Much love as always- Alex”

I then heard a loud bang in my office. It spooked me. “Come in,” I said. It was my executive chef. “Your team needs you now. They’re swamped before service and they need some help.” I groaned. “You kidding me? What happened to our other prep cook?”.  Chef looked at me “ He called in sick. ‘Sick’.” I was mad, but wasn’t surprised. “Fine,” I said in a disappointed tone. I grabbed my apron, towels, and hat. My chef stopped me before I left my office. “Wait.” He was waiting for a handshake. “Shake in man. We start the service as a professional. We leave the service as a professional.” I shook hands with him. “As always. Let’s get to work.”

3 hours in and it is almost done. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. Considering that we’re down a person. I yelled across the line “Alright crew. Great job. Let’s clear it down. “Yes Chef”. My executive chef came into the kitchen “Alex. There’s someone that wants to talk to you. She only wants to talk to the sous chef”. I groaned. “Really? The service is over and we’re in the middle of cleaning.”. He looked at me. “Come on. Don’t keep her waiting. I’ll cover you from here.” I looked over the corner. It was Esther. Why the hell is she doing here?

I took off my apron and slowly approached her. “Hey,” I said. She replied “Hi”. There was a long silence. She clears her throat. “So. I read your message before my flight took off.” My heart stopped. I didn’t know what to do. I started to sweat, my heart is beating rapidly, and I’m starting to lose my balance because I’d been walking around the kitchen the whole service. I tried to talk. “Listen. I’m so sorry about what happened a week ago. The past month I’ve been so stressed out because of work that it leaks into our relationship. And I know that this is not the first time. It’s probably my eighth time. And you told me to separate my work life from my personal life and I keep on failing to do so.”

“I had enough” She cuts me off. “Give me your hand”.  I held out my hand. She gave me her pendant back. I’m speechless. “Is this..”. “Yes,” she cuts me off again. “I came here to give this back to you. Giving this to me right now when you’re not here to support me, just hurts. It feels more like an apologetic gift than an anniversary gift. I know that you’re super busy because of work, and you don’t have any time to support me. I can even say that you’re way over your head. I’m going back to my parent’s place”. “Isn’t that like 2 hours from where we live?” I asked Ester. She nodded. She grabbed her jacket and bags and started to head out. My head chef was behind the front counter. Cleaning the tables. Ester looked at the chef and looked at me. She lightly smiled. “You do what you need to do.”

I returned back to the kitchen. My chef came around the corner. “Hey. What are you doing? Go after her!” he said to me. “No. We got a job to do.” I said to him while I pack up my station. “Well, I think you should be done.” I turned to him, looking very confused. “ What do you mean?” I asked. He began to rant “You should really know when to stop because it’s starting to kill you outside of work. Trust me I’ve been there and I don’t want this to happen to you. Look. I can close with what I have and you”. I’m starting to get pissed off. I began to raise my voice. “If you want to be useful Kevin, either go after her or help me close so we can move on with our lives.” He grabbed his towel and began to head to the dish pit. “Whatever you say. The grease trap is overflowing again. I’m going to need a hand”. I grabbed my apron and towel. “Fucking hell”.

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