Well, not together at least or all at once. First the college student who came in to the bar unknowing what she really wanted. She really didn’t know what kind of drink, life, career or what direction she was headed. Farther more she didn’t know How to deal with the anger she was feeling towards a good friend of hers either. So she set down her belongings on the floor, sat down on a barstool at the bar’s counter and started opening up some peanut shells to pass the time.
Mean while the cook came in via the backdoor through the bar’s kitchen. She knowing that she had to have the ambition to set things started for the shift because this job pays for the bills and all of the extras in her life. Not to mention her family also depended on her to be there.
Of all the people to find in a bar was a single mother. Oh, hold that thought…nah. Single mom’s are not a rare sight in bars. The single mom sat down at a high top table near the pool table after ordering a drink and started looking at pictures through her phone. She wished she could take amazing photos of her kids sporting events just like the ones she seen via social media from other parents she knew.
The photographer whom had arrived much earlier than the rest noticed the single mom scrolling through her phone. He then got up from the bar and walked over to the single mom’s table. “You know I could teach you how to take amazing photos like that.” said the photographer. Really said the single mom. Yep, said that photographer as he proceeded to show the single mom how to use her phone to start taking those amazing photos.
The photographer pointed out the college student at the bar and directed the single mom how to capture the mood and moment of the college student. The college student unaware of what was going on behind her finally found some notion of what to eat least and ordered from the kitchen and waited.
The cook who was still in the back received the college student’s order and then prepared the meal. Once it was finished she sent it out. The college student relished in the comfort of her order and started to feel much more braver about her life pending decisions.
The student looked up from her meal for a moment and started to speak to the bartender who was putting away some highball glasses and wiping off spots of one glass that did not come out of the dishwasher without water spots. Mam, did you know what you wanted to do with your life when you were my age?
The bartender paused for a moment and then said, Yes. I really did. I had the whole wold at my hands when I was your age.
What happened? Asked the college student.
The bartender continued. Durning my senior year of college my parents were killed in a car accident off the freeway. It was so bad that it made it on the local news.
I am sorry to hear that. said the college student.
The irony of it all! The bartender boasted. Is that my parents were killed by a drunk driver driving the wrong way up the freeway.
I don’t understand the irony in that mam. Said the college student.
You see kid. Said the bartender. My grandparents who immigrated from Germany opened this bar decades ago. They were my dad’s parents and when they decided to retire my dad took it over. Ya see kid, it’s a neighborhood staple. It’s just as part of the university as the university itself.
I see, said the college student.
So…. I am sorry to be nosey. Said the college student. But why…or how…or…? You mean how did I end up here said the bartender. Yes, said the college student.
Like my father, I too am an only child. I had no one else to pass this place off onto. My grief to say the least was incredibly bad. I hated this place down to the very core of my soul. I wanted nothing to do with it after my parents were killed! It stood for everything that irresponsible drunken idiot stood for. Not to mention the bartender who kept giving the drinks to that idiot too. The bartender paused and placed the dishrag she was using to wipe off the water spots. She looked away trying for a moment to hold back the tears until she could compose herself.
Kid. The bartender said in an abrupt way. The bartender who gave the drinks to the person that killed my parents was one of my dad’s employees. He was more worried about his tips, and having a good time environment. I blame him more for my parent’s deaths than I blame that drunken idiot. Because of his carelessness two families lost their loved ones that day. At that time he was not held accountable for his actions. In the end though he did pay for his actions. Not in a legal way but in the emotional psychological way. I hate to tell ya but that bartender has not been right ever since.
The college student looked down at her meal and felt a little less hungry than a moment before. The bartender noticed and said hey kid, I didn’t mean to make you feel awful. These things happen in life. They are things that are out of our hands. There is just some things we just cannot predict. However, you just pick yourself back up and you make a go of it and live….
…How long did it take to get over your grief? Interrupted the college student.
A couple of years answered the bartender. Just then an older woman about in her early sixties entered the bar. Oh, hi Aunt Viv! Said the bartender as the older woman entered. Oh hey there Sweat Pea! said Aunt Viv. Is my daughter in? Asked Aunt Viv. Yeah. said the bartender, she’s in the back. Great! said Aunt Viv and the older woman made her way to the kitchen.
As you now know that older lady is my Aunt Vivian, said the bartender to the college student. If it were not for her or my mother’s best friend Mary. This bar would no longer be in business.
The college student returned to her meal and continued to listen to the bartender.
I wanted to sell it and leave this town. Everything here reminded me so much of what had happened that I just couldn’t take it any more. I tried to get through the rest of my semester but couldn’t. I dropped out and lost all my funding. I was on a scholarship. A full free ride. The bartender shakes her head in a bit of disgust. I didn’t quit the moment everything happened. Believe me I tried. I tried to go about my normal life and the more I tried the more I just kept flailing. By then I moved out of my apartment and moved back home. It got to the point where I get up for the day and find myself sitting on the couch staring at nothing.
Then one day my mom’s best friend Mary stopped by the house to check on me. The scary part is I didn’t even hear her come in. She started to fuss about how the house was a mess and boy did I look like hell ran me over. “Child when was the last time you showered? Because man o’live do you stink!” Then she took one look at me and then chased me off that couch. “You go get yourself a shower and then make yourself look presentable Gina!” She stayed with me for a couple of days after that.
In the end we both knew that Mary could not be there for me because she had her own life and her own family to take care of. Mary ended up calling my Aunt Viv, my mother’s younger sister. Aunt Vivian packed up everything she owned and moved in with me.
Then college student looked at Gina (the bartender) in a quizzing way. As if to ask, “Did she really just pick up and leave everything with no worry or causes?”
Gina caught the questionable look from the college student. And just before the college student could get the question out. Gina continued with her story.
My Aunt Viv had to relocate with her job. She was lucky enough to be able to transfer offices. Plus she didn’t have to worry about selling a home since she had always rented. She moved in within a couple of weeks after Mary called her, and to this day I am ever so grateful that she did what she did. Believe me I felt bad for my cousin Safia. She had everything a teenage girl could ever want and all of a sudden her mom had uprooted her entire life because of me. Nonetheless it was the first time Safia had a place to call home for good.
I want to believe that because of my parent’s deaths my aunt and cousin finally found a community. Not to mention a newly formed family. We were not your typical conventional family but we made it work. Eventually with my aunt and cousin in my life I started to come out of my grief. I eventually returned to my old life with a new outlook. It did take a while to start thinking positive though. And even though it took me a while longer that I wanted (considering I was footing the bill on my own this time) I did finish college. Plus Aunt Viv was not going to allow me to walk away from it all considering I was so close to the finish line.
I remember my graduation day feeling so proud and at the same time feeling the hole in my soul that my parents were not there to see me walk across the stage to get my diploma. It was after all the celebrations were over with and it was just myself, aunt Viv, and Safia sitting in the living room relishing in the thoughts of what my parents would say or what they might be feeling over my accomplishment. I think I even said to my aunt that it would be nice just to have a little bit of them with me. She all of a sudden jumped out of her chair and said with a bit of excitement, “Gina, I almost forgot your present!” I looked at her with a bit of shock and said, “Aunt Viv, you didn’t have to get me anything.” Nonsense, said Aunt Viv. Just then she brings out this big box. The kind that a fancy full sized bridal ball gown would fit into. Except it wasn’t a bridal ball gown at all. In a million years you’ll never guess what was in that box!
So what did she get for you? asked the college student.
Something that cannot ever be replaced! said Gina.
Well, what was it? The college student lightly demanded.
It was a quilt! said Gina. And not just any run of the mill quilt you could get at any big box store. It was a quilt my aunt and my mom’s friend Mary had collaborated together on. The college student not quite grasping was was so special about a quilt or why Aunt Viv and Mary had gone out of their way to make such a thing. She looked up at Gina as if why waste the time in making one. At that moment Gina stood up a little taller and continued on with her story.
You see kid. That quilt is something I can hold and keep with me for the rest of my days. It is so special not only because my Aunt Viv and Mary made it for me but because they made it with my parent’s clothing. It was indeed a memory quilt. From the moment I pulled it out of the box, I felt my parents there with me. I looked it over and before I even realized it, I had it wrapped around me. The warmth that raided from that quilt wasn’t just from my own body heat but I felt as though my parents were giving me the best hug ever! I missed them so much but rejoiced having a piece of them once again. I have kept that quilt on my bed ever since. And when I met my husband a few years later. He spoke out loud how ugly it was. I was taken off guard over his remark that I went off on him. He profusely apologized and never said a word about it since. He is such a wonderful man. I believe my parents would have loved him. But I don’t believe they would have loved him the time he blew a hole through the garage roof and nearly gave me a heart attack.
The garage roof! stated the college student.
Yep, said Gina. The garage roof.
I’ve heard that story before, said the college student. Oh yeah, my chemistry professor told that story after he blew up a small bit of something that I cannot remember as an icebreaker introduction to his class. I remember thinking to myself, “His poor wife!” And now I know that she is you!
Yep, that’s me! said Gina.
You know I came in here today because I was a bit hungry. But more lost than anything, said the college student. You see, I have had a lot of loss going on in my life. I am not as grief stricken as you were with your parents. All the same, I am angry. I am mad at a friend who decided that heroine was more important than anything else in his life. To look at him now. You would have never known that he was on top of the world at one time. I mean he was one of the top athletes of our high school. He went on to college and did well in athletics. He is super intelligent, and not to mention good looking to boot. Or was until the heroine started to take its toll on him. Oh, by the way since you told me your name. Mine is Kelly. Nice to meet you! Gina acknowledged Kelly’s introduction with a nod and hand shake. Anyway, said Kelly. My friend is now beyond help, and I do not know what to do.
Gina looks at Kelly a bit broken hearted and useless. As a bartender, said Gina. I am supposed to have all the wisdom in the world. But kid this is a tough one. The only advise I can tell ya is to live your life. Because it will be up to your friend if he chooses to live or die. I know addiction is for real but you cannot stop your life because of his choice.
Do me a favor though, said Gina.
What’s that, said Kelly.
Keep tabs on your friend, said Gina. Because one day wether your friend dies or survives his addiction. He will need you.
What else is ailing you Kelly? asked Gina.
You know how I asked earlier if you know what you wanted to do with your life. Said Kelly.
Yeah, said Gina.
Kelly continued. When I walked in here I did feel so lost. I wasn’t sure what to do about my friend. I wasn’t sure if what I was studying is what I really wanted to do.
And now, said Gina.
Now I feel like a know my purpose. said Kelly. I am going to continue on with my path to med school. I know now that if you try to keep your head up, keep a positive attitude and surround yourself those who love you regardless of what their relationship is to you, you can make it. I am going to continue with working towards being a general practitioner with my minor in psychology. This way I can assist the patient for their needs. A lot of times patients don’t realize that what is the main cause to their symptoms is actually psychological that leads to the physical.
Such as? Asked Gina.
Such as depression, stress, etc. That is what started my friend on his path. No one realized that he was so depressed and that he did not feel as though he was good enough. It’s sad really, said Kelly.
Just then Kelly picked up her phone to check the time.
Oh crap! I’ve got to go! My class is just about to start. said Kelly while she gathered her belongings off the floor. Hey, it was nice meeting you Gina! Thank you for your time. It was something I realized that I really needed.
…You mean to hear someone else’s tragic pick me up story. said Gina sarcastically while laughing.
Yeah, said Kelly. Oh. By the way… how much do I owe for lunch?
Nothing. It’s on the house kid. Said Gina. Go now before you’re late.
Thanks! Kelly piped up as she darted out the door. See ya later!
Gina smiled and waved to the young woman as she left the bar.
Well, Gina, said the single mom. Looks like someone else has benefited from your tragic loss.
Sari don’t be so so snide. Gina said sharply. Sometimes that story needs to be told. Now I see that you and Jim have officially met.
Yep, said Sari. He has been teaching me how to take better pictures of Eli during soccer games.
Count yourself lucky. Jim is one of the best photographers in the city. Said Gina. Now show me what he had you doing.
Sure, said Sari. And she started showing the pictures of Kelly and Gina during their conversation.