Today I’m going to tell you a love story.
About 20 years ago, I was the manager at a fancy restaurant called Vij’s in Vancouver, BC. I was 27, and I’d been there for four years working at the front of the house. I loved my job and some of the best people in my life came from that place.
One night in January, I told the girls that we could close early at nine. It was a Monday, and it was freezing. Nobody was going to come for dinner.
Around nine o’clock, my friend Kimberly sat a party of two at table 17. I turned to her and was like, “fuck, Kimberly, we’re closed!” She hadn’t heard me because if she did, Kimberly would have turned away the Pope. I walked over, annoyed, and saw two guys sitting there.
They started to ask what to order, so I took their menus and said, “don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.” Which was my way of saying, I’ll order for you. I ordered them some dishes and opened a bottle of wine. I remember walking away from that table thinking, "I think the cute one is flirting with me." Which, let’s be honest, HAPPENS in restaurants. It’s our job to be nice to you for God’s sake.
At the end of the night, the cute one paid the bill and stopped me on his way out the door. “Hey,” he said. “I just need to tell you that you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Before I could respond, he asked me to come out with him and his friend. I said no. “But,” I offered. “If you come on a Tuesday, I certainly will.” (Clearly, I am a STELLAR flirter!!!!!)
So that was that. He left to go back to LA, and I stayed. I remember just standing there after he closed the door to the restaurant. I ran after him! So dramatic, and really not my style. But by the time I got outside, he was gone, and the sky was purple. Which makes no sense because it was 11pm on a January night in Vancouver. But trust me, the sky was purple.
For the next month, every time the phone rang at the restaurant I was sure it was him. I was always working, so I never answered. Plus, by then, he was already back in LA.
A few weeks later, I decided to take a shift on Valentine's Day (because I didn't want to go out with my then-boyfriend). When I got to the restaurant, my boss handed me a letter. It was from him, the cute one. And it was a love letter. I shared it with my boss, who is still the only person I’ve ever shared it with. He looked at me and said, “Karla, you have got to go have an affair with this man.”
At the time, I didn’t have a phone. This was 2001. I didn’t even have an email address. So I went to an Internet cafe, and I sent the guy an email. Which apparently he almost deleted. And from then on, we just started emailing each other back and forth. Just like the olden days but via a Hotmail and AOL account.
I knew that this was my person. Only problem was - he was in Los Angeles and I was in Vancouver. So I decided to tell him I was coming to Palm Springs to visit my aunt. I didn’t tell my aunt why I was coming. I did tell my friend Steph - who was slightly concerned I was going to get murdered by a strange man that I met at the restaurant. (I love you Steph).
As I boarded the plane to fly, I felt it. It was one of those moments where you feel like you’re staring down destiny. I thought to myself - this is it, I’m going to leave Canada and marry this man.
I remember waiting for him to meet me in Palm Springs. And he came in, and we had table-side guacamole together. And we went on a long walk. And later that night, I kissed him.
And that was that. That is Matthew Welch. We’ve been together 20 years.
So why am I telling this story? Because when we talk about careers, we often try to rationalize it all. I was interested in X, so I pursued Y. I saw the industry doing this, so I did that.
While my career has been about finding opportunity, it’s also been about love. The clients I love. The designers I love. The clothes and projects I just...love.
I became a stylist because I moved to LA. I moved to LA because I fell in love.
In that sense, this has all been a love story.
I’ll let Matthew tell his side of the story another time because he always says I do a shitty job of describing it. Plus, his side has Chris Isaak in it, so it will definitely be worth it.