Last week at the Pfister was full of surprises. Small things. Like learning that Buffalo Bill once stayed here. And big. Like being gifted a journal and pen from Alan who attended my first Pfister journaling workshop. Spending time with Heather and her daughter, Ellie, who traveled all the way from Green Bay to have chai with me before leaving for college. And finding out that one of my favorite people is leaving.
It was on Tuesday that both Alan and Heather visited me here at the Pfister. I had just come up from the kitchen with my homemade chai and Pastry Chef Travis’ vanilla shortbread cookies when I noticed Alan sitting on the couch across from the front desk. He was here for chai. This would be his second week in a row since finding out about ‘Chai Tuesdays’ at our journaling workshop a few weeks ago. He was becoming a regular and happy to wait.
As soon as I was set up, he gifted me the journal and pen. He had gone to Blicks, the art supply store I told him about last week when he was asking for a place that had good pens and more blank books. He loved Blicks and the pen I had given him but wanted me to try one of the new pens he had found for himself. The pen was attached to a pale yellow journal, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. He had bought himself a pack of six and wanted me to have one. I have used the pen every day since he gave it to me. And the journal is no longer blank.
Heather and I met 25 years ago. I had just moved to Milwaukee, had no friends, and was volunteering at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Heather was there too helping her friend Deidre, one of the museum’s artists for the day. I liked them from the start. And hoped we might be friends.
It was a Friday night when I heard from them. I was standing in my kitchen when Heather called. Inviting me to Von Trier, a Milwaukee institution. I said yes. And found my way there.
I arrived on time, grabbed an empty bar stool, and ordered a drink. Time passed. I waited. And waited. Still, there was no sign of Heather. But just as I stood up to leave, disappointed, she appeared. They had been sitting at a table in the back when she remembered I was new to Milwaukee and might not know that there was more to the bar than the front. That was the beginning of so many things. Friendship. Love. Laughter. Tears. Relationships. Weddings. Kids.
Ellie was the first of our children to be born. And is the first to go to college. Her eyes are big and bold. Her heart open and curious. And her smile bright. It lit up the lobby as she walked through, now all grown up, with her mom. I noticed them right away. But it took me a minute to believe it was them. To realize that they had chosen one of their last mornings together to come all the way from Green Bay to surprise me. They met Adam, James, Ken, Rosy and so many of my favorite Pfister people. We told stories, laughed, and told more stories over many cups of chai.
Time with Alan, Heather and Ellie was the best surprise. And everything I hoped ‘Chai at the Pfister’ would be.
Later in the week, I found out that one of my favorite people is leaving. My heart sank. It is always hard to say goodbye. Even when you have only just met. But perhaps, the Pfister was meant to be the beginning. And the rest is yet to come.