(below is an unedited piece from MY Doppelganger, the sequel to the Secret Beast)
“Who’s wings?” I asked as I reached to the top shelf of the hot plate in the kitchen.
“Downstairs” said Carba who was expediting food orders.
“I’ll run ‘em” I said.
I grabbed the basket of wings, exited the kitchen, cut thru the dining room then thru the open front entrance of Paradise Grill restaurant that led to the outdoor stairway that landed in the parking lot.
I ran down the wooden stairway wearing my black sweaty logo’d work polo shirt and black pants into the warm Maui air with chicken wings in hand.
As I got to the bottom of the stairs I paused for a moment to inhale some of the fresh burning da kine that at times, floated magically thru the air of our parking lot. Then I took a hard right and like Peter fucking Pan in a servers apron, I skipped down another set of stairs that re-entered the building’s open basement into Mello’s Bar, extended my right arm across the backs of a pack of customers and reached out balancing on one leg and said “here’s your wings” as I handed them to the bartender.
She was hot.
Of course I knew who was working the downstairs bar that night. I also knew that I was going to get a work out running food downstairs just for the joy of delivering food to her and then hearing her say “thank you!”
“What about Stefanie for bar manager?” asked the voice thru my phone.
“Huh?….” I said.
I temporarily returned to the Seattle area after leaving Lubbock, Texas where I was helping on the remodel of the historic Gardskis restaurant. I was talking to my friend Damin who was not only the general contractor for the remodel but also the potential general manager for the restaurant when it reopens.
While I was in Seattle, he was in Lubbock waiting for permits to repair unforseen structural damage that was discovered during the demolition phase of the old building on Broadway street. Once he got the permits I planned on returning to Lubbock to help finish the project.
Damin was going thru the rolodex in his mind thinking of bartenders that he had worked with in the past. He was a manager at Paradise Grill in Maui where I had worked. He was now playing with ideas and building a potential bar staff for Gardskis.
“How are you gonna get her to come to Texas?” I asked.
“She now lives and is bartending in Whitefish, Montana” he answered.
“Really?…well it looks like I’ll be driving thru Montana when I come back down!” I laughed.
A couple weeks later I got the call to return to Texas as the engineering had been completed and permits had been issued to continue construction.
The decision to leave Seattle was very difficult. For the first time in 4 years, I was living in the same geographic area as all 3 of my kids. While I was living in the Bay Area, Maui, Nashville, Lubbock… my kids were in Portland, Montreal, Billings MT, Wyoming, Big Spring TX, San Bernadino…but now we were all living in the northwest at the same time.
And now I was thinking of leaving?
I really felt strong about staying in the Seattle area…spending holidays, birthdays etc. with my kids, nieces, nephews, brothers, mom etc…and…I had been piecing together the music and chapters of My Doppleganger…it’s a book, a blog, a movie, a reality tv show…a project I am completely engulfed in and I felt all the cooperative components were starting to fall perfectly into place.
But learning how to be and working as a bartender in a Big 12 college town in Texas with great friends certainly had my attention. What a once in a lifetime experience that could be.
I could also drive through Montana.
After changing my mind several times…I decided to head back to Texas.
I left Sunday morning on Labor Day weekend and drove east on I-90.
As I was driving through eastern Washington I was not completely satisfied with my decision to go back to Texas but tried to focus on all the positive aspects of my choice. One being that in 500 miles I would be in Montana and may have an opportunity to order a beer from an old co-worker…a beautiful one at that.
I googled Whitefish to see where it was on my route.
Once I learned Whitefish was 2 ½ hours north of I-90…making it an extra 5 hours off my path…I was not quite sure if I would be stopping there.
“Hmmm…is there a woman on the planet that is worth driving 5 hours out of my way to order a beer from?” I thought.
“Hmmm…running wings is one thing but a road trip into the mountians to see a woman? …who doesn’t have any idea that I may be coming to say hi? …where will I stay?”..I continued thinking…”well, I don’t have to decide right now…”
By the time I got to Idaho I knew I had only a couple hours left until I had to decide to head north to Whitefish or continue on towards Texas.
“I need a sign” I thought.
Within minutes I received inspiration to login onto Facebook as I was driving.
The post at the top of the page was a photo posted by Stef from the bar she worked at in Whitefish. It was a photo taken from the night before…Saturday night, of good times at Crush.
“Huh” I thought. The sign to head north to a bar called Crush was just a little obvious.
“But Crush?…really?” I can’t say I had a crush going on but the excitement and thrill of road trippin into the completely unknown to have a beer served by an old co-worker from Maui consumed me…especially as I would be driving into the Montana mountains on my way to Texas to work with yet another old co-worker from Maui.
It is an amazing feeling to watch the dots connect in full color as dreams unfold. My dots are the people, places and experiences. What connects the dots is an energy stream of like frequency.
As I headed north to Whitefish, the rush of energy that flowed thru my body and my headphones while listening to Blackmill confirmed that I had made the right choice.
I arrived in Whitefish around 5:30 pm. It was Sunday night and plenty of tourists were walking the streets… filling the restaurants, breweries and after taking clues from the neon No Vacancy signs…the hotels.
The town looked like a fun place to hang out for an evening so I stopped at the first hotel that I could find that had an illuminated Vacancy sign.
“$180.00 a night?”…I thought that if I had a beautiful woman to share it with it would be worth it…but not solo…I could just crash in my car for a few hours, drink a Red Bull and continue to Texas.
I looked up the address to Crush. It was downtown with no overnight parking in the immediate area. After sleeping in the front seat of my car in downtown Austin last year, following a night of bar crawling on 6th Street, then waking up to a parking ticket on my windshield, I now check for things as these whenever I enter a new town.
I found a suitable parking spot a few blocks away and walked to Crush.
The hours listed on their front door said they open at 8:00pm on Sunday nights. It was about 6:30 pm, so I decided to visit the other breweries and bars for a couple hours.
I thought about waiting right outside their door at 8:00 pm when they opened but then thought… “No…that would be weird…who would drive all day, in the wrong direction, to randomly drop into a bar with a smokin hot bartender, who I don’t really know all that well, don’t even know if she’s working, just to order a beer and say hi, for absolutley no reason and making no sense at all, unannounced, uninvited, inspired by Facebook and hot wings, …and then be waiting outside when they opened?…Not me. I waited till 8:30…like I just happened to be non-chalantly walking by.
The front door to Crush was locked. It didn’t open. The bar was closed.
After watching a few other potential guests tug on the locked door, I lowered my head, turned and walked away. I didn’t really lower my head…actually…I was kind of relieved.
“Oh well, that was fun” I thought as I began walking to my car.
I felt kind of proud of myself for trusting my gut and taking myself on one helluva ride all day. The rush was totally worth it. I also felt that in time… that something, some person, some event would be manifesting to give me more clarity…clarity on both why I was in Whitefish and why am I not convinced that going to Texas is the best path? How exciting…life at it’s best.
I decided that I would sleep a few hours in my car then head to Texas.
As I sat in my car I thought I should at least contact her and tell here I was in town and that I tried to say hi. I sent her message on FB Messenger mentioning I was on my way to Texas and stopped by to say hi then fell asleep around 9:00 pm.
I woke up and looked at the clock on my phone. It was a little after 1:00 am. I also saw a green blinking notification light on the phone.
Groggy, still semi-buzzed, I then opened the message…which ironically had just been sent.
The message was from Stef and it had exclamation points. Phew.
As I continued to read the message I became more and more awake. She said the bar was closed to the public as Crush hosted a private party which started shortly after I was there. She asked if I was still in town and if so, stop by the bar for a beer while she closes.
And…if I was going to be in town tomorrow, I was invited to go to the summit with her and her friends.
I jumped out of my car, took my gallon jug of water and dumped it over my head…to really make sure I wasn’t dreaming and rearrange my bedhead that was getting rather long. I messaged back saying I’d be right there.
As I walked to the bar, I noticed all these drunk people walking past me in the opposite direction as the bars were closing.
“That’s funny” I thought. “All these people are going home from the bars and I’m just waking up and going to a bar…this is the craziest thing ever.”
I walked into the club as a few of the last guests were leaving. I saw a Dj breaking down equipment and two other male bartenders closing down the venue.
There she was…behind the bar…
“Dear Jeff…always always always trust your gut” I thought as she gave me a very warm welcome with her hug.
The first thing she asked me was “where are you staying?”
If there is any value of this chapter it is this: If a woman ever asks me “where are you staying?” again in my life?… I will respond the exact way I did in that moment.
“Uh…” I said as I shrugged my shoulders.
I didn’t want to tell her I was sleeping in my car…AND, I didn’t want to lie to her and tell her I was staying at a hotel…AND, I certainly didn’t want to say “with you”…nope, that is a lie… I DID want to say “with you!”
But I wasn’t even fully awake yet…I could HAVE been dreaming. Couldn’t we have a couple beers before we get to this part?
As I searched for an answer she said “you can sleep on my couch!”
‘Thank you!” I said.
I had know idea where this was going but I sure liked it.
As I sat at her bar we had a few IPA’s and re-visited old times in Maui and the new times in Whitefish with her new co-workers while they continued to close.
While I sat there I thought of how cool everything turned out. And the more we talked, the more I realized I was talking to an old friend…a precious friend.
If you had told me 4 years ago, where the book The Secret Beast ends, that I would be on my way to Texas stopping at a bar in Whitefish, Montana at 2:30 am drinking beer with a girl who was a bartender at a restaurant that I was a server at on an island in the South Pacific at some point in between?
I would have said “She must have a nice ass.”
And there it is. I had never seen Stef in jeans before. Always shorts in Maui…and she has the most killer legs ever…ever. Jeans worked for her as well…very well. What a treat this was. Really.
I love the universe so much.
Jiles met us at her apartment. Jiles is her dog that she had in Maui…he always cruised in and out of the restaurant/bar as he pleased. Jiles was kind enough to let me sit on the couch as Stef and I had a few drinks and talked until the early morning hours.
I am not sure that I have ever had a conversation with a woman so fun, full filling and interesting in my life. My perception of her being a bartender, a mother, a traveler, having awareness of self, an awareness of energy, an appreciation for nature…. resonated more and more with me as we talked.
Conversation flowed. We talked about writing as I learned she is a writer. We inspired each other.
The more we talked the more appreciation I had for her…sure she’s gorgeous, but what a friend I felt I had discovered.
Then as our rendezvous was approaching closing time she said “Excuse me, I’m gonna jump in the shower and get ready for bed.”
She returns from the bathroom wearing shorts.
“Are you serious!” I thought.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
Just as I was thinking of how this worked out so cool…me… not looking for a girlfriend, or a lover or not even looking for sex…well not really the latter…but as I was basking in my new found friendship…she breaks out dem legs. Not just any legs…the finest in the islands.
“Fuck you Jiles”… I thought as I looked at her dog in the eyes while he’s thinking “you ain’t got a shot pal.”
“I can see that jackass” I said as I dog whispered back to him.
I woke up on the couch semi hungover around 9:00 am. I had to use the bathroom.
As I stumbled from the couch towards the bathroom, I passed a door, in a short hallway that was open on my left. Not knowing exactly where I was, I looked into the room and realized it was not the bathroom…instead, it was Stef’s room.
“Omg…wrong room…it’s her…damn near half naked on her bed!”
I quickly turned, found the bathroom and went back to the couch.
I tossed and turned…I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about were those legs on the left in the hallway.
Then…I had to go to the bathroom again.
Just hours before, driving to Whitefish was just a thought and now this?!
“Okay dude…just walk straight to the bathroom…do not look left” I thought.
But I thought again…
“Well maybe I’m supposed to take a left?”
“Are you insane!
“Well, I’m just saying…maybe she wants to cuddle?”
She’ll KILL YOU!”
“Come on man, go for it” I continued thinking to myself…
“Don’t be an idiot”…
“Where’s your confidence bro?”
“NO LEFT TURN.”
My wiser, inner being eventually prevailed as I have lived to write about it. It was an easy decision…my gut said not to take a left and to continue on the path of least resistance.
I said goodbye to my friend and left for Texas that morning completely refreshed, eager and excited for what comes next.
Stef had given me the best words ever during our talk…words that I have read before but words never delivered to me in person. If I am out of alignment and think of these words my vibration and perception instantly shift to a feeling of ease.
The right person at the right time…
I received the clarity I was hoping to find in Whitefish…just wasn’t expecting it to be delivered with such fun and beauty.
(above is an unedited piece from MY Doppelganger, the sequel to the Secret Beast)