BY CHRIS OKORIE, NYC: Well folks, it’s almost over. Nine months in this amazing city for myself and Calvin have basically come down to just a few days left. I’ll be honest that it’s almost a bit unsettling just how swiftly my time in New York has flown. The difficulty of it all is finding myself trying to wrap my head around not only these past nine months, however these past 23 years of my life. Last month was a pretty rough one, and  I’d found myself reflecting heavily on the decisions that I’ve made during my time on this earth. The what if’s, or as my “gee” would always say “should’ve would’ve could’ve”. Last month, I had to take an unexpected visit back to my home in New Orleans.

New York had pretty much gone relatively smooth for myself up until June, like  people understand me when I say “smooth” I mean like Parkay or Mrs. Butterworth smooth like not one big hiccup at all. Understand me people I’ve learned more skills, terminology, techniques that I’ve ever learned in my life about the culinary field. I’ve lost weight, made new friends,  I can now speak very very very very bad spanish, and thanks to master Calvin I find myself watching food network shows like “Top Chef” and “Chopped” stuff I was never really into (also Calvin is a huge Vampire Diaries fan, weird right)?

Man as I’m writing this stuff, the more I realize New York has really done WONDERS for me; and not one day passed by that I didn’t call my grandmother, and talk to my “Gee” as I’ve always called her.

Not one day went by in my life that woman has not been apart of mine. ‘Through good times and bad” from when I had my first crush on Sydney in kindergarten, from when I got in my first fight with Milton in 3rd grade (My good friend now). From when I received my first A on my volcano project that she helped me with, or when I had to go to summer school caused I failed the LEAP. From seeing momma buy that 03 Honda Civic to witnessing us lose it, and everything we owned, in hurricane Katrina. Having a flashback now of my mother, grandmother and I all walking through that water together. From us all making it out of hurricane Katrina alive, to losing my mother (her daughter) 3 months later. From seeing me receive my high school diploma, me stumbling upon Cafe Reconcile, from seeing me get my first car. And my greatest accomplishment, her being there when I won the John Besh scholarship, she’s always been there.

“Should’ve would’ve could’ve” I should’ve noticed my grandmother was sick these past 3 years, is what I was saying to myself at the time, I would’ve been there for her even more, I could’ve helped her in whatever way she’d needed.  The love of my life passed away the night before I arrived to see her in June. She never told me anything, as usual she didn’t want me to worry, and to echo the words she used when my mother passed “Be thankful that god gave you 15 good years with yo momma, because some children never got a chance to see their mothers  at all”. And I am so thankful that god gave me 23 amazing years with you Gee. So as of now I’m truly counting my days people, New York has been truly amazing and I’m going to miss it.

Emery:  You are an amazing person, I love you thank you so much for everything. Many days go by that I just can’t believe that this has happened to me, and none of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for you, Jessica, Chef John, Lauren, and the rest of the crew, one mo time…… Thank you so much and I love ya’ll

Calvin: Homie these past few months with you have been really fun and I can’t wait for that to continue when we head back to the city……. Calvin “I’m no longer a one man wolf pack, My wolfpack has grown by one” (Hangover 1) I love ya homie.

I’m hitting the old Dusty trail people……… I’ll catch ya’ll next time!

In loving memory of Marilyn “Gee” Davis