One-hundred days is a lot. And sometimes, there just isn't enough time in a day to find something specific to say goodbye to or enough energy to wrestle with the sadness of "this is the last time that I will (fill in the blank)."
So I'm taking a night off.
Cody Walker and I were chatting the other day and he mentioned wanting to write something. And he did! And I'm grateful for it because, in doing so, he reminded me that leaving can become very isolated, and very one-sided. It can become all about me, what I'm leaving, and how I'm feeling - forgetting that everyone is transitioning. Even those who are staying.
So, for today, we'll say goodbye together.
Cody, take it away!
Meet Clay and Nathan. They own a restaurant here in Chengdu called “The Range”. They are good southern boys from from Southwest Virginia (not South West Virginia).
This year our principal has been throwing out the idea to us that stories matter, specifically peoples stories about their life. So we thought it would be a good idea to ask Clay the story about The Range and how in the world they ended up with a restaurant in Chengdu, China. Clay and Nathan have been best friends since they were 10 years old. They went to the same school, same college, and now own the same restaurant. After college, they wanted to open a restaurant and Nathan had a friend in China that told him he should come here to open one. They moved to Shenzhen and started the same style of restaurant there. Clay mentioned that in Shenzhen they had to figure out everything for themselves; becoming legal, buying food, buying beer, and hiring people all with no Chinese. Through all of their struggles, they managed to become successful and open another restaurant in Shenzhen. After a few years there they were looking for the next thing to do. They had a business investor propose that they open a restaurant here in Chengdu. They officially opened in February and business has been great. Stories matter. We were ready to leave the restaurant at 6:30 and then decided to ask him questions. We did not leave until 10:30.
There are many western restaurants that are technically in competition with each other but Clay says that all of the owners are really good friends and help each other out when needed. You can also sit with the owner of a restaurant to talk and play games with him for 4 hours. I don’t know of many places in the states where you can do things like that.
So now the food. Delicious. That is all that is needed. All of it was great. We had wings (65 RMB), burgers (80 RMB), mac-and-cheese (50 RMB), spinach artichoke dip (50 RMB), quesadillas (65 RMB). All for a grand total of roughly $45 USD. This is an average price for western food here in Chengdu. All of the things on the menu are family recipes as well.
We wanted to single out the wings this week. We tried four different flavors. A southern dry rub, mild buffalo, bourbon BBQ, and Sichuan Mala. The Sichuan Mala was on point! Usually when foreigners try to make a Sichuan spice they make it too overpowering but no theirs. Clay told his Chinese cooks to make a spice like they would if they were at their house and this is what they came up with.
If you are ever in Chengdu we recommend going to have a beer and a good meal with Clay and Nathan. Some good ol’ southern boys in Chengdu.
I (this is me again) don't connect with this because I don't connect with food really. Especially western food in China, but Cody does, and he's built a small tight-knit community around it. Saying "goodbye" to Chengdu looks very different for the both of us, but we're both saying goodbye, both wrestling with a countdown.
And on that, we can connect; we're the same different.