Evening has just begun on what has been an amazing Mother's Day. It started with waiting tables at The Steeping Room, and then directly to teaching Pilates in the early evening. It was full of sunshine with just enough of a gentle breeze to balance the humidity, everyone seemed to be in high spirits (some after waiting over 90 minutes for a table), and the class I taught was full of sweat, laughter, and the type of energy you want to bottle up to save for a rainy day.
So, gravitation. The word for the day.
It would make sense that having discovered gluten-free dining myself at The Steeping Room, there would be many other "canaries" who have found a place to "roost" there. And it's true - we have a growing community, of both patrons and servers who are GF, DF, or both. I remember during an evaluation with Emily, one of the bosses, that she was concerned that perhaps I was encouraging guests to modify their orders or make special, out-of-the-ordinary requests. I assured her that that wasn't the case ( I already have a toaster) - I just tend to attract guests with particular dietary needs. That's all. <shrug>
The truth in that statement could not have been more evident than today, waiting tables on Mother's Day.
Of all my tables, it would be safe to say that over half of them were either GF or GFDF. And these were entire families of 5 or 6, not just one or two out of every sitting. Did these tables request a server who was GFDF? Do I advertise myself as the GFDF server extraordinaire? No, and no. We just happened to cross paths. We gravitated towards one another.
It was actually really cool to see parents raising their children in the gluten-free lifestyle. And all these kids were so, so happy when their food arrived. I would pass by the table, and....silence. No words, just chewing, savoring, and smiling. And when I collected the plates, all of them were clean as a whistle. They seemed so grateful to be able to eat out and have a meal like everyone else and not have to have the kitchen bend over backwards or order off a different menu that's more like an instruction manual. And to see 5 and 6 year olds, beaming from ear to ear, thanking you for "delicious" and "amazing" food - how can that not make you smile?
I tried imagining what it would have been like had my parents known I was gluten-intolerant when I was younger. Everything would have been so different. They certainly would have had it easier. But then again, everything was different back then. I had never even heard of celiac disease or gluten free until 6 or 7 years ago, let alone thought that wheat would be something that might be making me sick. And nowadays, it's become a part of normal, daily conversation (at least in Austin). But like I say:
It takes being lost to be found.
I am definitely one to believe that "Everything happens for a reason." And through working at The Steeping Room, not only did I make my own personal breakthrough, but I've also had the fortune of meeting this diversity of people walking the same path. We've been able to find each other, most often by chance, and we've been able to help each other, even if it's just to know that someone else knows what we're going through. You can't look at someone and see their dietary constraints. But having made contact with these people and being able to make them feel safer dining out, it's incredibly validating to see the community to which I belong and to feel like I'm contributing to that community.
And you can, too.
When you cross paths with someone who is GF, DF, both, or just a "canary" of some kind, remember that it can be more than just a coincidence. You don't have to do anything special to make that a special moment.