Sunday Offering: Garlic Butter, Birthdays and Winks

I feel like I have to start with this… I am blown out. At capacity in every direction and moving at full speed searching for that light at the end of the tunnel. I know it’s there. I just want to catch a glimpse of it’s glimmer. 

I love what we do. Every bit of it. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired… physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My goal in this life Evan and I have created is to do all the things we do and do them gracefully. I’ve come to realize that sometimes the grace isn’t on my end. It might have to be on someone else’s end. Someone I snap at or let down or forget their name. My part in that is to acknowledge their grace. To acknowledge that God is working in all things around me and all people around me.

When I let myself get too caught up in my busyness it can be hard for me to see God working. It can be hard for me to see those winks I so often long for. For about the past month, I have felt this feeling… I mean… I have had some of the happiest moments… the funnest times… the best conversations… but there’s sort of this underlying feeling of grief. I don’t know how grief works. I’ve felt it for almost 10 years and I still can’t ever explain it to someone. Sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes it’s a little less than a lot, but it is always present. Here are my thoughts… when I am at capacity. Truly at capacity. My heart and soul and body and mind can’t “hug” the grief as well as they can when I’m not at capacity. Does that makes sense? The grief is always there. It was placed there almost 10 years ago when we lost my dad. It’s there. But my heart (when peaceful), my soul (when tuned in), my body (when rested) and my mind (when clear) “hug” the grief. They are all inside of me so I can only imagine them as being pals. Those other feelings comfort the grief so that it’s not the thing I feel the most. But in times of capacity… those other things are busy just doing the best they can to take care of themselves and that leaves the grief to bellow inside me. 

That’s where I have been. Unable to see the winks, the signs, the validation… that I am always looking for.

Until Thursday.

Wednesday night I heard the news that the original Spaghetti Warehouse in West End was closing it’s doors for good on Sunday, Oct 20… today. (Sunday Offering… wink)

That specific Spaghetti Warehouse is where I always wanted to go as a child for my birthday. Well, I’d say ages 9-16. I wanted to eat there, walk around West End and take the carriage ride through down town. My mom, dad, sister and myself would go eat dinner there ON my bday and do these things. I’d have a separate friend party… of course. Spaghetti Warehouse is where we went after my high school graduation. It’s where the college I graduated from hosted some of our special dinners. It is a place I have so many memories. 

When I heard, I immediately called my mom and sister to see if they could go to dinner there on Thursday night. The last time the 3 of us had a meal there together would have been with my dad. I don’t remember exactly when but I know it was.

Thursday night happened to be the exact half way point between my birthday, Oct 3, and my moms birthday, Oct 29… (wink)… so we brought a cake to celebrate one last time in that building.

When we got there it was a 2 hour wait. We were waiting no matter what. We ended up sitting behind the little hostess desk and getting to know her and the gentleman seating the tables real well. The phone was ringing off the hook so I went ahead and answered it myself a few times. After hearing them say the same thing over and over I was sure I knew what to do.

We seriously had the best time before we even got to the table. My niece, Hayley, ended up going with us and she was such a joy. So fun and talkative and so 15! I ran into a girl in the waiting area that I recognized from a previous introduction. I asked why she was there and why she chose to wait 2 hours. She told the story of how she grew up in Ft Worth and her dad would take her and her siblings out of school early and ride the train into Dallas. They’d walk around West End and eat lunch at Spaghetti Warehouse. He’d get them back before their mom made it home from work and she’d never know! 

As I looked around the room, it was packed full of families that had created memories there. Families that gathered again on that Thursday night to remember the good times and create one more in that same special place. The same exact reason we were there.

On Monday of this past week, I had been craving something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was… but then I did… it was Spaghetti Warehouse bread and butter. This, of course, was before I found out about their closing… (wink). As soon as we sat down at the table, they brought the bread. Two loaves of crispy, soft, warm sourdough bread and their infamous garlic butter. With a cutting knife stuck in it… their signature delivery.

It was everything. It was everything my heart, soul, body and mind had been craving. We got some appetizers… toasted ravioli and mozzarella wedges… of course. And 3 out of 4 of us ordered the Spaghetti Warehouse 15 Layer Lasagna. It’s what my dad always ordered. Sometimes I’d get something else just knowing I could have a bite of his. Or sometimes I’d order it myself… just knowing he’d finish it if I couldn’t.

Not too long after we got our meal, the gentleman that had seated us came and sat down with us. There is maybe one or two people in this world that know how much that bothers me. It’s like this weird tick I have. It just always makes me feel uncomfortable because, in all honesty, they’re normally truing to get a bigger tip or get you to write a fancy review on Yelp. But this was different. He wasn’t our server and the restaurant was closing for good in 3 days so neither of these were the case. This, my friends… this did not bother me at all. It felt so natural for this man we had just met to be sitting at our table with us. I mean it… it felt like he was part of our family. (wink)

As we began to talk, we found out that he was the head guy that came in to actually close the restaurant. He was the guy that had to tell all of the employees at 9:30am on Monday that they were losing their jobs in one week. He has been with Spaghetti Warehouse for 30 years. He sat with us… and without knowing our story… he began to talk about how special this place was to so many people. How his favorite thing about this restaurant and this building was the memories that people had made in it. The same exact reason we were there.

We began talking about the remaining Spaghetti Warehouses and he told us about the one in Houston. The original building had been destroyed by Hurricane Harvey so they rebuilt and renamed it… Warehouse 72. I asked why 72 and he explained… for 1972, the year this original Spaghetti Warehouse that we sat in at that moment was founded. 1972 is also the year my parents got married… (wink). At that point my mom had to excuse herself from the table. We had all already been a hiccup from tears and she just could not hold it in any longer.

We finished our meal. We finished our conversation with the gentleman. By this time, the place had emptied out. We had intended on celebrating our birthdays but we ended up just celebrating life. We never even got the cake out.

My friends… that meal was the first time in a very long time that my grief lifted… or got a real tight hug. It was for sure the first time in 10 years that I felt like I was sitting down to dinner with MY FAMILY. The family I grew up with. The family I know and remember. I got that feeling again. And it was amazing. I was able to let my shoulders down a little. To unclench my jaw just a bit. 

Meals do this for us. They connect us to our past. They engage every sense… the smell, the sound, the taste, the texture… which increases our heart, soul, body and minds ability to tap into those memories. 

I hope this post resonates with you. I hope you find the time soon to have a meal or cook a meal that brings you some great memories. And I hope you’re able to lower your shoulders and ease your jaw just a bit.

Happy Sunday friends.

Below are some pictures of our meal last Thursday… and a picture of me and my mom lighting the candles to our birthday cake in the parking lot 🙂

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