*The Faun’s Dream by Olivia Belli
It’s been over a month since I left my beloved city. It’s been over a month since I arrived in this new land where the idea of home has to be reconstructed from scratch. It’s been over a month since I left everything behind for this new and temporary adventure. I’ve been wondering whether I should take a moment to reflect on one of the toughest but also the most amazing years in my life that took place in the capital city of Canada. I’ve been wondering whether it would be the right time to write about my Ottawa, my Korean mom, Alice & all my wonderful soul friends who have made my time in Ottawa one of the best in my memories. I’ve been missing my life in Ottawa ever since I arrived here.
I miss everything.
I miss those days when I got a chance to visit Alice at the end of service and talk to my favourite people there. I miss everyone there. I miss being able to talk to Gen about those delicious chocolate bars at Raw Pulp, those mouth-watering creamy cauliflower wings at Pure Kitchen and all those nostalgic memories at Place des Arts in Montreal while polishing those fancy glasses and preparing for the next courses. I miss hearing all the mysteries behind those art illustration works and the incredible stories about the origines of those wine bottles from Leoni, our talented sommelier.
I miss talking to Sam about her youth travelling around the world and how she ended up staying in Ottawa for over ten years now. I miss the taste of sensational fermented vegetables from those little black containers hiding somewhere underneath Sam’s station. I couldn’t forget this one time during service last winter when Sam gave me a piece of this gorgeous creamy roasted mushroom. It was out of this world. All of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of nowhere in this tangled forest looking for this exotic, magical and mesmerizing ingredient.
I miss Briana, all those phenomenal plates created from the Alice kitchen and her ten years of hard work and dedication. I miss Briana’s kindness, generosity and awe-inspiring stories. Alice feels like home to me. I always feel like I belong there. And yes, I miss my home greatly. I miss Alice kombucha, one of the finest drinks I’ve ever tasted in my life. Alice has taught me one important thing about the love for fermented vegetables as it is an art that if you are able to understand, it will bring you the most wondrous gift in life. Everything worth having in this world desperately needs our patience and perseverance. Isn’t it true that nature is a great teacher as it teaches us so much about the greatness of humility?
I imagine walking through the magical door into Alice wonderland where the smell of eucalyptus fragrance oil is being absorbed in every corner, and then just on my right is the language of love, hard work and passion. In this mind-blowing fermentation cabinet, I see all those vegetables going through this solitary, time-consuming, yet remarkable and sophisticated journey of fermentation which feels like watching the caterpillar in a season of loneliness and isolation before it eventually gets its wings.
Loneliness is the most natural part of life.
I would say that the more I go, the more I realize that I know absolutely nothing about life but I do know one thing, everything worth having is always waiting for us at the other end of the tunnel if we persist and most importantly, if we keep having this hunger for knowledge and gratitude. Both have to exist simultaneously in synchronicity. Eventually, I no longer feel the need to tolerate the idea of loneliness, but learn to appreciate it in its profundity.
Alice has inspired me tremendously. Working at Alice is not just a means to an end, but an opportunity to observe, to meet, to exchange, to share and to learn a great deal about nature, humans, the need for connection and belonging and above all, the art of life. Thank you, Alice for everything.
A goodbye for now.
Lille, oct. 1. 20