I was late. I grabbed an apron. Evie, the head chef, pointed to the clock and shook her finger at me. I shrugged an apology. I looped the apron over my head and was tying it around my waist when across the steamy kitchen I spotted a new guy talking with the prep chefs. He was skinny cute. His dark hair needed a cut. Dressed in faded jeans, sneakers, and slightly tattered tweed jacket, he looked like an updated Oliver Twist.
I must have been staring. He smiled at me through the clutter of hanging pots and pans. He had a gap tooth grin that looked like trouble. He walked over to where I stood.
"John Fuller, from Essex," he introduced himself.
He said he'd heard from a friend that they needed people to help in the kitchen.
"I had nothing better to do, so here I am," he said.
I thought he mistook me for someone important and told him he needed to meet Evie who ran the kitchen. He said he'd already met her. At this point, Evie yelled at the two of us to get to work.
John was a student of architecture, just a few months short of completing a degree. The program was challenging, he said, and he'd excelled at it. But he wasn't sure architecture was what he wanted to do with his life. Actually, he wasn't sure what he wanted at all. So he dropped out. He was almost twenty-six years old. It drove his parents mad, he said, they begged him to get the degree and then decide. His university adviser refused to accept John's resignation and promised to keep his place open for one year while John sorted himself out.
“But I consider myself sorted,” John said with a smile. “I just don’t know what I want to do with my life.”
Kitchen work in Italy offered John an escape. I was looking for adventure. The two of us were like a match and a keg of dynamite.
(From memoir Overland; @ellowrites @ellotravel)