A month ago I cooked a meal with my wife for some family that was coming over. My 5 month old son, Ezra, watched her whipping olive oil into mayo for potato salad as I tended some pork tenderloins on the grill. We drank a bottle of wine and laughed at Ezra's curled-toe fascination.
After dinner, my wife's aunt Ellen pulled me aside. She has the presence of a horse whisperer. When she trains her blue eyes on you, it's like a force-choke from Vader. "I think you should start a food truck."
I smiled my polite smile. Having cooked at restaurants in college and then for friends and family since then, I've heard that my food is good. This is by no means some kind of self deprecating thing. I love to cook and I love to eat. I think my food tastes great and I've worked hard (though it hasn't been work) over the years to learn to do it right. It's just that starting a foodtruck is a lifestyle change and I was comfortable.
Again with the Vader stare. My polite smile didn't fly with her; I was reminded yet again that Ellen and my wife share more than a few genetic traits. "I think you should think about it. Really. Making food makes you happy."
That was it. Everybody packed up their respective cars and we put Ezra to bed.
Less than a month later, I was looking for a new job. My wife and I sat on adirondack chairs in our front yard passing a Topo Chico back and forth and talking about what to do next. We conferenced Ezra in via baby monitor, but he didn't contribute much. "What would you cook if you had a food truck?" she started.
A beat passed in which I explored the idea of the food truck, the feasibility of it. I ran through my list of friends and acquaintances, reaching out to anyone that might be in a place to help, let alone have the passion for it. Some said they might be able to help, some loved the idea, but weren't in a place to pack up and move for something just this crazy.
Even though I'm an eternal optimist, I have my limits. That limit in this situation was about two weeks. Finally, I asked for a sign. Something, anything to encourage me before I gave it up and went back to job applications. That morning, I made an attempt to contact my long-lost friend Mike who hasn't been on social media nor has had a cell phone since I've known him and currently resided in Marfa. If you're thinking he's that kind of guy, he is and so much more.
I picked up the phone and dialed Maiya's, the restaurant I had tracked him to online. I knew his voice right away though I hadn't heard it in over five years. He was moving to Houston. And had already been putting together a menu for a restaurant with the same theme I had for the truck. I wired the money for the downpayment on the truck the next Friday.
Years before, when I was in film school, Mike had told me about something he'd heard about Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman. He told me that they rarely spoke to one another because they were always afraid they'd be working on the same idea.