Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shining a Spotlight on.....Melissa

I'm blindsiding my good friend Melissa Jarratt with her very own tribute in my on again, off again "Shining a Spotlight" series of blog posts. I reserve these posts for important people in my life who have changed and impacted me in a positive way. If you haven't been featured yet, just give it some time or....we aren't quite there yet.

I met Melissa in 1996 at....guess where....The Kennett Square Inn. I'm waiting to write one of these posts that won't use the backdrop of the Inn and it has yet to happen. Steve Warner, if you are reading this, you should feel special and impressed.

So, anyway, Melissa came to work at the Inn after giving birth to her first child Logan, who frighteningly enough is now in high school. Melissa was upbeat, positive, no nonsense and real. While I have always been no nonsense and real, upbeat and positive are not innate characteristics of mine (cynical is a better description of my demeanor). I believe at that point in time, I may have held the illustrious title of Head Waitress, which was just Steve's way of putting me in charge of the schedule and making me feel like I was doing something with my college degree.

Melissa's role at the KSI has one of sanity in an often insane, subculture-y type of restaurant world. My goal in life is to write something that truly captures the idiosyncracies of what its like to live the restaurant life (Anthony Bourdain hasn't even done it), but in the case of Melissa, she stood on the fringes of our insanity. You see, she had a normal life. She had a husband, a child and a house and functioned in the mainstream world. She just came to work at the Inn to earn some extra money. We, (the "restaurant people") were thriving in the heat of the moment drama of the fast paced lifestyle, screaming at each other over orders, dodging utensils thrown at our heads, drinking and smoking until the sun came up, sleeping all day and then doing it all over again.

But Melissa and I became friends. You can't help but like Melissa. She is about as stand up as they get. She is strong, intelligent, helpful and kind. She has strong convictions and strong morals. And she doesn't give a shit about what anyone thinks of her. And that is what I admire most about her.

I'm not exactly sure how long Melissa worked at the Inn but its 14 years later and she is still my friend. She stood by me during every one of my highs and lows of adulthood. She is the only person on the face of the earth I have ever called and asked to pray with me. Because I know Melissa's relationship with God is well established and intact. And I figured if anyone has a direct line to Heaven, it is her. (Side many sentences can I end with the word her? Apparently...alot.)

I often say God gives you exactly what you need, when you need it, even if you don't recognize it at the time. For an estranged Catholic who has struggled with faith, I believe, Melissa was given to me to let me know that, yes, indeed, He is here. He is watching. And He hears me. Sometimes, I send the messages through Melissa, because I'm convinced, she may have priority status when it comes to getting in God's ear. But I'll take it however I can get it.