The 15th assignment for writing 101 arrived on the heels of finding out that a 17-year-old restaurant in town is closing its doors. The assignment: Think of an event you’ve attended and loved and imagine that it it’s been canceled or taken over. Jonathan’s is more of a destination than an event. But it has been a favorite place since I moved to town shortly after it opened.
Located in a boutique hotel that’ occupies a historic building in the old Gratz Park area of Lexington, Jonathan’s attention to detail and insistence on “cooking local” combined with the lovely decor and the elegant atmosphere of the hotel make each dining experience a nice event. News of the closing came as a shock.
At the same time I realized that experience has taught me there’s always something else lovely that arises. That there’s nothing to be gained by hanging around mourning over lost things that can’t be restored. I used to take these things hard. When I got the news that Lexington’s 103-year-old department store, Wolf Wile’s, closed in 1992 I had what an aunt used to call a “go-to-pieces”. My grandmother shopped there when Dolph Wile still owned and ran it. My mother and her sister shopped there after his son, Joe, started working there in 1927. I shopped there as a kid–after Joe Wile had taken over– and was thrilled every time he met me at the door and personally guided me to my destination while regaling me with stories of my mother and aunt as children. I felt like a piece of my childhood was lost.
At that time I felt like places and people from my past were disappearing and I wanted to hang on and make it stop. I took every closing, every death, every change so hard. Over the years, however, with lots of meditating, chanting, and yoga and lots of thought about impermanence and the inevitability of change, I feel more calm in the face of loss and change. Not that I don’t ever cry or feel sad about these things. But then I let it go. I know that life is good and that every loss opens a door for something new.
I’m disappointed that Jonathan’s at Gratz Park Inn won’t be there. But already another chef I really like is slated to take over the space. Jonathan is probably going to open another restaurant. Out of the loss, I’m seeing two great gains on the horizon. Often loss leads to more and/or better.