Kristin’s belting out a convincing Me and Bobby McGee as she packs Peyton’s socks into a clear plastic travel case on the bedroom floor. That she hasn’t attempted to cash in on her God-given singing talent has always left me confused. She’s so goddamn good. Take a few pebbles of gravel out of Janis Joplin’s throat, ditch the childhood torture, the drinking and that’s Kristin. I’ve always thought we should somehow be able to monetize it. I know she could at least get a bar gig. Kris won’t hear of it. She sings because her heart is full, not because she desires fame. She’s extra happy today, so she’s putting her special brand of velvet-croon on top of what is already a highly recordable alto.
The first time I heard this magical sound, I was coming back from picking up smokes and whiskey at the Pelham in New Orleans. She must have thought the store was further away than it was. With steam billowing out of the cracks in the bathroom door, I sat stunned on the stone-hard hotel bed as she sang Adele’s One and Only like she was auditioning for Quincy Jones. I knew at that moment that backing out of our one-month fling wasn’t going to be an option. I wanted to hear more. That was nearly five years ago.
Our apartment here in Newmarket is mostly packed, save from the few things we need to get through the next four days. Toiletries, suitcases full of traveling clothes, a couple cooking implements, utensils, mattresses, overflowing toolbox, cleaning supplies, shoes, cardboard boxes from restaurant suppliers full of mementos, the “technology” and “entertainment” backpacks; they’re all strewn around the apartment like farm animals after a tornado. Most of our other worldly belongings—if not donated to Goodwill or pitched—are four floors down in the basement storage room. We’re starting to get this moving thing down to a science. Paring possessions back to the barest essentials is liberating not only for the drive train of my Outback (which will again be towing an oversized U-Haul through the mountains), but for our psyches. Less shit is best shit, I guess, at least when moving. I can do without the too-small sweaters, tattered sandals, umpteen chef coats, fifty or so odd books I’ve read in the last couple years anyhow. And Kristin, God bless her, is more than willing to get pragmatic with her Mariah Carey-sized wardrobe. I must have driven a thousand pounds of unwantables to the Somersworth Goodwill. I can’t say I was sad to see any of that stuff go.
Saturday is our last shift at Ciao. Honestly, we wish we could get on the road today. We’re all—Peyton included—ready to get on with the next round of road adventures. Peyton, unlike us, has a concrete plan for the summer. We’re all driving back to Memphis, via Asheville, then her grandfather is taking her to meet up with her father in Texas, before then flying to Florida to visit with her grandmother. Kris and I have looser plans. A couple Airbnb’s have been rented on the Carolina Coast, there’s talk of getting an apartment and jobs in Asheville (most likely scenario) but at this point, we don’t even have a forwarding address. We’re thinking Kris is going to score a pastry chef position at Asheville’s James Beard awarding winning restaurant Curate? Nothing’s concrete, but they have sent emails and called numerous times after a protracted Zoom conference a few weeks back. She will meet with the chef de cuisine sometime this summer. Maybe we’ll have a little stability by fall? Since graduating culinary school she’s talked non-stop about training in pastry. I hope she gets the gig.
I don’t know how our mail is going to get to us (nor do I care). We have no forwarding address. It’s as close to going off-grid as I’ve been since the Montana trip in 2005. I want to get lost in America for a while, maybe eat, drink, write and reconnect with family, friends, beach, mountains and sanity. Maybe (definitely) spend some quality time with The Singer. We do have a coveted reservation for lunch at Charleston’s The Ordinary on July 10th. Other than that, the future is uncertain, and the end of the restaurant bump and grind is near. Bring on the hot black top and dotted yellow lines of the American highway.