Last weekend marked my first anniversary with V Smiley Preserves. I love a chance to get nostalgic so I’ve put together a narrative list of recounting, gathering the year around me, noting its beats and ticks and conducting it into memory with a lot of gratitude. Today I’m starting with the great supporters of my first year in business, which is the most personal of the notes. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about more business-y items like the farmers market and the decisions that go into the jam flavors.
1. The producers. I started V Smiley Preserves with enough money to carry me through 4 months of operations. I told myself that at month 4 I’d reflect and evaluate whether I wanted to continue with the project. I ran out of money in 2 months. This is classic. I paid my kitchen rent and bought honey and fruit out of my paycheck from cooking at the Whale Wins.
At month 4, I walked my bike home from my oral surgeon’s office who had just told me I needed to go to the emergency room immediately. They thought I was having a heart attack. The left side of my face had gone numb and my chest hurt. A week before I had been sidelined by an oral infection and accompanying fever stemming from impacted wisdom teeth. I had insurance, but not the kind that would cover a visit to the emergency room. All I could think about was my little jam company. If I went to the emergency room, I’d lose my business to medical bills. So I walked home, fell into bed, cried for a while and fell asleep. Amy came home from work later in the evening and—just as I knew she would—insisted we go to the emergency room.
Turns out it wasn’t a heart attack. I had Bells Palsy and the chest pains were stress symptoms like I’d never experienced. I scared the shit out of my family. My sister Moira drove up from LA to spend a weekend with me and listen to me talk in circles about the jam company. My mother gave me the most generous financial gift that allowed me to pay my medical bills , which meant I could keep V Smiley Preserves afloat. These are the executive and associate producers behind V Smiley Preserves. And then there is Amy. Between my restaurant job and V Smiley Preserves, I work 7 days a week. Amy and I don’t see a lot of each other. How do you support your partner and their project when you primarily associate that project with taking the person you love away from you? This has been a central question for Amy. And I am mostly very tired and want lots of help and am angry when I don’t get it. We don’t have all the answers to these quandaries answered yet, but man, we have a come a long way and when Amy and I clinked our glasses of bubbly together this weekend, I couldn’t help but feel that the greatest triumph of the last year has been the rhythm and grace we have found.