In a certain unexpected irony, I’m going to write about the past-tense daily prompt about past-tense thoughts of the future-tense… I’m not really sure if that’s irony really, or just a little bit silly.
The question posted was “As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?” Which is a great question because most of us had some grand scheme, at 8 years old, of what we wanted to be when we were a grown up… like 20 years old! It’s amusing when I look back on my youth and how incredibly short sighted I was (and still am on some level.) I never saw myself as a grandpa let alone a father. I never thought of myself as a career man let alone a manager.
When I was but a wee lad, I remember fondly that one of class assignments was the very subject I’m writing on now, but I was a kid. I never thought I’d make it past 25. Now I’m 30 and I still don’t know what the hell I want to be when I grow up.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Go back to public school, little Zacharay Edwards is sitting there in class, glasses so big they practically rested on the top of his cheeks more so than his nose. Everyone was off talking and socializing about their great plan on how they were gonna become a go-kart racer, or a veterinarian, or a doctor, teacher. All these great careers that we saw our elders with and were taught that everything was cool if you knew someone who had that career. You never thought about what your parents were complaining about at the table about how Jenny “doesn’t do anything but complain” and your mom ends up picking up all the slack and “oh my god could you believe that Frank just took stress leave? What stress he doesn’t do anything!”
These are the things we’re never taught about in school. There’s no Real World 101 (Which, I personally think, the world would be a better place if there was such a course.) But, man, there’s plenty of tests to tell you what you should think or what you should do. I went through a battery of them as being one of the first of what I like to call the ‘Ritalin Generations” where if you didn’t fit in you were medicated until no one noticed that you didn’t fit in anymore… I say that but then I look back on how disjointed and off topic this entry is and think “Maybe, just maybe, on some fractured level, they might have been onto something”
So what was I thinking in class? (See, I told you, you’d get used to this)
I was the only kid thinking “Oh god I don’t know… I just want to… I don’t know” I had no clue, I was 8. I never thought about this. I didn’t have anyone in my life who was particularly inspiring to me other than my big brother, and he was the definition of Gen X. Man I looked up to him like he was the coolest kid I ever met, I was so lucky to have this bad-ass as my brother. He never laughed when everyone else did, but he still managed to make everyone else laugh. He never wanted to do anything that the man told him to do. He was always against the grain and living free. “Just let it ride” he’d always say to me. But to have your inspiration be in someone who’s the polar opposite of you leads to a little bit of… internal chaos. I constantly tried to live up to my brothers ‘whatever’ attitude and that wasn’t me. My brother was never picked on like I was because he was too cool to be picked on.
When he was 16 he decided to move out and go live with friends. The months prior to his departure were laden with vials of oil, strange girls and reckless behavior. Nothing I understood then at 12 but the one thing I did understand was that he was still so cool. I didn’t know what drugs were, what parties he went to or anything like that. I just knew that he was what inspired me to let it ride. Shortly after he moved out he got a job at a chain-restaurant and later told me that the job ‘saved his life’ the boss there took him under his wing and really looked out for him, got him off the street and kept him busy with working in a kitchen.
So COOL! I thought, as a kid.
Shipped off to highschool when my single father decided it was my single mother’s turn to raise me (A damn smart choice on his part, despite what I thought then.) At this point I lost contact with my brother. I knew he was the wild child and on a downhill spiral of the debauchery that came with Kitchen work in the early 90’s but I knew nothing more than that. Keep in mind this is before everyone had an e-mail let alone facebook. Every now and then I tried cooking, I couldn’t scramble eggs and I had a temper that would make a 2 year-old look calm.
Only when I was a 19 y/o college drop out did I get a job to get my ‘foot in the door’ as a dishwasher at a casino restaurant with hopes of moving up into one of those jobs where people dish out jack-pots and get $1000 tips. A year later one of the cooks called in and they needed a prep guy so I was the most capable dishwasher and they moved me up.
So lets wrap this all together in the beautiful way that an eerily coincidental universe could.
What did I want to be when I grew up? My Brother.
What do I do now? After that faithful day I was moved into kitchen prep I spent the next 10 years honing my skills to become someone who manages a kitchen, where I eventually hired my brother so we could work together to create, inspire, and feed the future.
Thank you for reading,