All throughout my childhood-my family would say, “You’re going to marry a white boy.” Little did they know I was bi-sexual, so they didn’t know my life...it was much more complicated. I remember my first crushes; there was this handsome Native man (and he’s still gorgeous) ...and my best friend who was Alaskan Native...I mean the list of loves goes on— from Cambodian to pure white sandwich bread I have loved the rainbow of people.
My options were never preferences because the only consistent diversity I ever saw was living and growing up in Tacoma. I honestly thought no one could ever LIKE me let alone LOVE me— so would I care where they were from? Not in the least. This was a problem. This was a hard view on love because it meant I accepted anything, and most times that hurt.
I don’t really have a lot of experiences with long-term relationships or someone loving me. I’ve kissed so many damn frogs — from emotional abusive ones to fetishized abuse to physical. I’ve lost count. Working in toxic environments and not getting the promotion because being assertive was taken as aggression.
I came to Port Townsend on a whim. I had a person here whom I thought was my ally and they created space for me until I brought race into it. Until I stood up for myself. Then they decided I was too much drama…
Processing all of this traumatic baggage. Awakening the things, I’ve buried. It’s been such a soul-sucking drowning feeling. I can tell you the cliché of 'we bleed the same blood', but to be honest, it’s more than that. I came to a new place to plant seeds and grow and to make my mark after having such a rough go at trying to be a Rockstar.
Long before that, my Papa had vision of a restaurant and my Mama was right behind him. He didn’t have the support that I received— no one loans money to a person like him. It’s on a rainy day and they pull him over at gunpoint and he somehow survived...but he was never the same.
I opened Nadine’s Kitchen (named after my Mama) officially 6 years ago and brought it back to life in Port Townsend two years ago. Food is a huge part of me and my story. I have ideas for soul food, take-out, soul punch, bay food and catering— all inspired by my family's recipes and the way I know food can bring us together.
And what hurts the most is how many people justify dismissing this dream. I’ve had people insult my menu or assume I am the ‘help' and not the owner. I just want to have a place where we build community and break bread together.
I spent some years as a performer When they say, “OMG I just love your voice!,” what I hear is: “You’re only good enough for my attention because you entertain me.” When I tell people this they go, “Nooo, I mean you’re so much more, but your voice just helps me.” And I then hear, “Who cares about your trauma? You need to shuck and jive so I pay attention to you.”
I’ve been under that shadow for so long that I stopped singing — because I was tired and beat up and people held so many expectations of me...not giving me the same respect. I’m not saying that my shuck won’t jive again, but it’ll be on my own terms and under my own pretenses.
This train of thoughts is saying so much but most of it is this:
I had a group of amazing people in town see my vision and help me make it a reality, and with the help of some loyal customers I had a real food cart going on. It was me living my best life, but we of course were not making much progress, and I was pushing myself to the end, I was emotionally, physically, and financially in a pit of ruin. I then found out that I was pregnant with my miracle baby, my life was changing, and I was worried about how to stay afloat. Luckily my brain just keeps on pushing. Luckily, I can’t be down and out for too long. Nadine’s has seen a lot of versions and will continue to grow and morph eventually into whatever form it needs to be.
I need your support to make it happen. I need the financial resources to rebuild the plans I had set out for myself. I do not have the luxury of traditional funding from banks, and they often do not make it easy to access the capital I need for such an undertaking.
As a black woman, the mainstream system was never going to be the way I got my own piece of the space. The constant thing that I hear about my ambition is, “It’s so hard to run a food business” but does the mediocre white chef who went to Mexico once hear that? So why say it to me? The support is flaky at best.
I’ve be told to be gentle on asking for what you need, but I have been. I’ve been more than that and I have some people counting on me to succeed and not give up. So I am not going to give anyone the satisfaction of my failure. Traditional methods don’t work for me...I am asking for your support to help me create what I’ve started. A soul food place in Port Townsend, WA.
Support Nadine’s Kitchen by sending any amount, as a one-time or a monthly subscription, and we’ll thank you for sharing it daily for 10 days. The starting goal is to get 1,000 donations. Many hands make light work and many small gestures of support will add up to this dream.
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