One day, when I was only a few weeks into living in Kansas City, a teacher at the school I worked at asked me to have dinner with her at “this cool bar by my house.” I met her at The Foundry, and was immediately bombarded with good vibes and warm feels. I was home.
Ethan and Tony were bar tending and Ethan asked me what I wanted to drink. “Um…I don’t know, I don’t drink much…um I like spicy drinks…there’s this place in Wichita I get a spicy martini…” “Mort’s?” “What?! Yes! How did you know?” “Say no more.” And that’s how the Angry Martini was born. It became my signature drink and any time I walked in the door the bartenders would start whipping it up for me. It was my own personal Cheers – but better.
A few months later I was lamenting to Tony about my financial woes and he suggested I get a part time job there. Brilliant! So I did. And that’s when my home became filled with family.
Say what you will, but serving is hard work. Not just physically, but mentally – remembering 80 different requests at once takes a special kind of brainpower, as does the ability to keep a smile on your face after dealing with loads of drunk people. However, if you’re surrounded by the right people, it can be pure joy. And oh my Lord, was I surrounded by the right people.
I was always the odd one out there because I was one of the few who had a day job, I only had one tiny tattoo, and only one, totally mainstream, piercing (my nose). I did not smoke, and on weeknights I would leave without sitting around the bar and drinking. But I never felt like the odd one out. I was loved and accepted there like I had never been anywhere else. Those people became my people.
One day I heard we were hiring someone new and I told my manager I would be happy to train the person. He smiled at me and gave me a sympathetic arm squeeze, “Oh honey, you’re a great server, but you’re too…cupcakes and rainbows.” Cupcakes and rainbows?! Really?! This is how people saw me there? Suffering from depression for as long as I could remember, this was one of the greatest compliments anyone had ever given me. Somehow The Foundry had brought out my cupcakes and rainbows, and I was thrilled that people would associate me with something so happy and joyful. What a magical little world!
We would serve food all evening, and then push the tables aside at night to make room for dancing and drinking. The DJ would set up and ease us into the night as the beat boys came in packs and lit up the floor, and we would skillfully wind our way through them, 3 pints in one hand, food in the other, picking up the empties on our way back.
I got to serve with these people, laugh with these people, dance with these people, occasionally cry with these people, definitely party with these people, and sometimes even travel with these people.
Even after most of us were no longer working there, you could always count on popping in for a visit and finding at least 2 or 3 familiar faces also grabbing a drink, and having a smoke on the patio. You could show up alone, but never have to sit alone.
For 8 years The Foundry has been my safe space. The only space on the planet (yes, even including Barcelona) that I felt like I was fully and most authentically me. It has been my very favorite place; an old friend always there waiting for me. But in one week it will cease to exist.
I’ve been crying all day. At first I thought it was just because I was sad that The Foundry will be gone, but sitting here thinking about it, I think these are actually happy tears. Tears of nothing but love and joy for having had the privilege to know some of the absolute best, and most accepting, wonderful humans alive. I love every single person I worked with there with a passion. Just yesterday my Facebook memories popped up: “I wish I could adequately express just how much I love all my co-workers at The Foundry.” How appropriate. I tell them all I love them, and I think that on some level they get that – at least I hope so, but they will never truly know how much. I will never be able to thank them enough for all the love they innately exuded and bestowed upon me. Sure, we all went through shit while we were there – heartaches, big life changes, the simple drudgery of dealing with shitty customers – but we went through it together and lifted each other up along the way, doling out hugs, encouragement, laughs, and shots of Jameson. I don’t think I worked more than a few months with any of them, but they will be a part of my heart forever.
Thank you all, so very much, for all the joy and light you have brought to my life. Thank you for showing me so much love. I have worked in many restaurants, and at many different jobs, but I will never find another group of such incredible people, that somehow, in spite of so many different backgrounds, gelled in such a special way. Our physical house will soon be gone, but that sense of family will remain.
Love, love, love you all an insane amount.