Happy Birthday Red Gum BBQ! [this is not a feel good piece]

The last few months have been a whirlwind of holidays, family visits, birthdays and mid-life crises. Or was this just me?

No, you know what. I’m pretty sure it’s not. Only because every SINGLE person I speak with, who takes the time to really let me in beyond the, ‘I’m fine, everything’s great’ mantra, tells me so. 

I’m 40. Plus or minus a few years. Let’s say minus. Anyway – what this means is that it’s literally written in the life playbook that at this point in time I am revaluating my life and my choices and feeling the loss of my former, quite fun, passionate and fiery (also dangerous, irresponsible and bad with money) younger self. But I digress. This is a blog about Red Gum BBQ’s 2nd birthday. Or is it? I can’t decide.

This 22 of January marks the start of our 3rd year of life and exactly 2 years after opening our giant roller doors at 87 Arthurs Seat Road.  Here’s a little iphone photos video of that day.

It seems all at once a lifetime ago and just the other day.

What came before that was years of dreaming, imagining and planning. Here’s a picture of baby Martin in 2007 with his new BBQ scraper. His love affair with American-style BBQ in full swing, he had just purchased his new 6 burner and our backyard BBQs were never the same. Pulled pork, ribs and homemade BBQ sauces became our go to party food and we loved sharing it with our friends in Oz who had not yet been exposed to it. This was pre-pulled pork on every menu days.

Christmas BBQ gifts 2007

Christmas BBQ gifts 2007

This was our BBQ life until 2012 when Martin, on paternity leave with our son, Ashton decided it was time to bring the late night, too many beers ideas to reality. He wanted to open a BBQ restaurant. And the rest is the rest.

Our regular spot under the stringybarks at Emu Plains Market, 2013.

Our regular spot under the stringybarks at Emu Plains Market, 2013.

Cue 2019 and my (and your?) mid-life crisis. See the thing is, I’ve got this amazing business and I really, truly love what I do. I love going into that place every day and seeing all of the dedicated, quirky cool people who inhabit it. They let me be me and they are them. I have never felt more at home, more challenged and more fulfilled, professionally.

RGB Xmas Party 2018. Santa Sarah and me.

RGB Xmas Party 2018. Santa Sarah and me.

And I’ve got this wonderful, healthy, kind family – who I adore and who adore me. So what’s all the fuss about? We have health. And security. And love. And, well, that’s it, isn’t it? What else matters? Shouldn’t I spend every single freakin second being totally grateful for all of the wonderful wonderfulness my life is providing – YES!

Awesome family.

Awesome family.

But there’s this haunting. If I’m really honest (and why not, publicly, to a whole bunch of strangers). Of a life unled. Of decisions locked in and permanent. Of a repetitive, foreverness that is as far as I can see. And I can’t seem to quiet my mind to the discomfort of it all.

But back to Red Gum.

In late November we gave thanks to a group of Red Gum BBQ friends who have supported us through partnerships over these past couple of years. It was an awesome night of food, wine and gratitude. Though there’s nothing like being ‘home’ for Thanksgiving, sharing it in a new home, with a group of people who haven’t yet experienced it, is really special. It’s hard not to be moved by the simplicity of it all. Perhaps I could learn some lessons…

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Over Christmas my Mom visited. It’s been 5 years since her last visit and she had never been to Red Gum. My pride gusheth over to show her our baby. And just in time to meet the new pits. This is Mama Carolyne eating BBQ. She says it’s the best she’s ever had. And she’s had a lot. And she is not biased.

Mom & Brisket.

Mom & Brisket.

Which brings us to this week and we celebrate 2 amazing years of adventure, friendship and growth. The learnings are innumerable. When I’m quite sure I’ve got something figured out, it twists and turns and shows me a new, confusing side.  Since last year you have continued to support us in showing up, sharing and investing in our story. And for that, we are overwhelmingly grateful. It is because of our community that Red Gum thrives. We continue to be humbled by your kind words and connection. That you choose to visit us, to share your special moments, that you take pictures and tell your friends, that you know who we are and you get it, is everything.

Thank you.

So I return to the disequilibrium of this moment of time. No, I didn’t make up that word. I thought I had but spell check says it’s cool. I’ll assume that this is just a time – with kids who push me to the brink and a repetitive familiarity of experience that gives pause to all thinking, feeling beings. And I’ll continue seeking but also trusting that our life unfolds as it should when we make the right decisions. Easy.

I hope you’re good too. Let me know if you wanna crisis together sometime. Maybe less, ‘I’m good, thanks’ and more ‘I’m a bit over [insert everything and anything here]’ would be useful. And while we’re ditching the formalities, no. My holidays weren’t ‘great’ and the start to my New Year has not been wonderful. It’s been nice. Ups and downs, you know? This is no pity party, I get how lucky I am and how grateful I should be. All day, every day. I’ll do my damndest not to focus on the suck but to focus on the beauty. But it ain’t alway easy, alright?

Martin and I, two weeks into open in Feb 2017. Amazed and humbled, still.

Martin and I, two weeks into open in Feb 2017. Amazed and humbled, still.