The Boy with the Koi Fish Tattoo. ~ Kathryn Budig

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Nothing like heading to the City of Love right after your man has said, “au revoir.”

The Universe has such a wicked sense of humor.

I’m boarding a plane for Paris in a few hours with a new rose quartz mala around my neck, sent to me from the designer telling me she met her husband right after she started wearing the stone and that it would bring me love. I’m now wondering if she meant in the form of a rose macaroon coma that I intend to induce in Paris.

Let me be frank. I am in no way heartbroken here, but the left side of my body is feeling a bit deflated, confused and achy. Everything happened so fast, I’m still spinning. I’m not sure I can even call this guy a boyfriend, as we dated for three weeks—but as many of you have experienced, a short amount of time can pack quite a punch.

I was introduced through a mutual friend who blurted out his name randomly on our way to dinner one night, saying that we would absolutely love each other and she couldn’t believe she had never thought of him for me. He was a chef. Fast forward, or rather step forward one day: I was invited to this chef’s restaurant where I felt like an absolute queen. Decadent seven course meal with wine pairings, best seat in the house, reminiscent of a table growing out of an enchanted forest…and enough mystery and fairy dust to make me smitten and doe-eyed by the time he joined us at the table.

He was beautiful. Warm face, infectious smile, an autumn induced tattooed sleeve with a koi fish swimming amongst scattered maple leaves. It was instantaneous. I don’t know if it was sensory overload from each bite of food that melted in my mouth, maybe it was the ensemble of delicious wines dancing in my head or getting lost floating down the stream of his arm twirling on a leaf.

All I could think was,

‘Where did you come from’?

Everything continued along smoothly. I hadn’t felt this kind of excitement in the pit of my stomach since my ex-boyfriend, the vampire (not reallyread the article).

I decided to bring my now honorary friend who had thought of this beautiful man to the restaurant as a thank you evening out. It was an early Wednesday evening, overcast with a pinch of rain and a huge rainbow that seemed to blossom right out of all the craziness of Los Angeles. My friend called ahead to let me know she was running late, so I stationed myself in a secluded area behind the valet, enjoying the random smiles that would flicker across my face thinking of my newfound happiness.

A few random people walked through this back way in to the restaurant and then I looked up, directly into the eyes of my ex-boyfriend. The one who broke my heart and sent me into a tailspin that I felt I had only just sufficiently cut off. He looked as handsome as ever. Damn. I suddenly felt a bit wobbly in my heels—but thankful to God that I’d dolled myself up and not lost control of my motor skills. After we got over our shock at the strange coincidence, we slipped into light conversation as I tried to figure out a graceful and tactful way of saying you better love your food because my new beau runs the ship. I think we ended up laughing about the viral double rainbow video instead until my friend arrived and went our separate ways.

I was shaken up.

What the hell just happened?

I see my ex maybe a sprinkling of times a year, and normally only at the studio where I work and he still practices. Seeing him on a random Wednesday night in my little extended nook of enchanted forest felt like a violation of my fantasy. After I vented over a glass of wine to my friend, my nerves calmed and the strangest feeling hit me—I was happy. I had found a man who could allow me to run face to face with my oldest and strongest ghost and be able to let it go. Seeing my chef walk up to our table that night was one of the most reassuring and warming sensations I had felt. I had a smile from ear to ear and it was authentic.

I was safe now.

Safe. It’s a funny word. You could say the ground is safe because it’s stable and holds us—until an earthquake hits. Just like a person bringing you joy and security can go from holding your hand one day to forgetting your phone number the next. The real question at hand is not why did it happen, but how do you cope. I’ve been through my fair share of disappointments with the opposite sex. I used to take it personally, and let it rip me to shreds. Still, I found myself starting to teeter on the edge of happiness and defeat when he told me he was overwhelmed and couldn’t date anymore.

Thank you, Chef. I’ve been chopped.

My closet jammed full of past painful memories started to eagerly creak with the new additional weight.

Shit, please don’t break open, please don’t break open. I can’t go there again.

I had wanted happiness for so long and he served it up to me warm and plated to perfection. I just didn’t realize when the meal was done the plate, glass, table cloth, and what the hell, the chair from underneath me, was going back to where it came from. Now, do I go back to where I came from?


I know that each person who crosses my path is here to teach me. To make me feel love, pain, joy, distress, insanity and bliss. This will never change. The emotion the person induces isn’t the point—it’s how you wield it. Not getting what we think we want is one of the greatest teachers. It makes us understanding, compassionate, and ultimately much more grateful and aware of the gifts we already possess. The Rolling Stones pretty much nailed it when they penned,

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes well you might find

You get what you need.

The cast of characters in our lives is ever flowing—constantly being re-written, killed off, brought back to life, but it’s our choice to write and understand the moral at the end of each chapter.

My chef had given me joy again. I had forgotten because it was locked up in my closet where emotions go to die. He did his magic and pulled it out, dressed me up in the finest woven joyful thread, filled my belly and soul with the reminder of hope, and took me on a ferris wheel ride of possibility. One could say he then took it away, but I choose not to focus on what I lack, because I now remember everything I have and everything I am.

I openly profess, perhaps for the first time—I am open to love. Whether in the form of a man, a quartz or a rose macaroon, I refuse to let the server take my plate that I have so whole heartedly filled. I’ve screwed up the recipe countless amounts and for that I am grateful. I know what doesn’t blend, work or taste right—and each attempt I get closer to my masterpiece. I am always in charge of my own dreams and happiness—I just needed a seasonal dish to remind me, spiced with shift of attitude, served by the boy with the koi fish tattoo.

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Kathryn Budig

Kathryn is a lover and teacher of yoga by day, a wizard in the kitchen by dinner time and a professional dog snuggler at night.

Follow Kathryn @kathrynbudig or on Facebook.

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anonymous Jan 8, 2013 5:11pm

Thanks for the instant memories.

anonymous Apr 10, 2012 12:28pm

Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to know a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I think that you just could do with a few % to force the message house a little bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

anonymous Jul 18, 2011 4:49pm

im floating around elephant journal and came upon this wonderfully tantalizing title…and voila…a beautiful story of honesty and revelation for us all to sink our teeth into. Well penned and thoroughly delicious… 🙂

anonymous Nov 6, 2010 8:01am

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
— Dr. Seuss

these are some simple words that have helped me through my separation after twelve years of commitment.
Just though I would share and Keep up your great presence 🙂

anonymous Oct 23, 2010 4:53am

You are the most hypnotizing and humble living/breathing inspirations that i've had the good fortune to stumble upon. I just want to say thank you so much for the reassurance that pure and genuine radiance and humility is still gracing the world. It is a nice feeling to have fallen hopelessly in love with you just from a few of your sentences. Please, write more.?! 😉

anonymous Oct 20, 2010 12:10pm

But remember too that the greatest pleasures in life come from what we do not control, the next note in a song, the touch of another. Keep taking the risk. And, remember that the history of love is written by the losers. For when you're in it you haven't a reason to write and nobody would believe you anyway.

anonymous Oct 19, 2010 6:33pm

ridiculously relevant for me at the moment. I guess people come into your life exactly when you need them, and leave once their part in your story is complete. Sigh.

anonymous Oct 16, 2010 8:04pm

Kathryn, this is very powerfully and beautifully written. You've evolved tremendously as a writer and a woman since you penned the Vampire piece.

You're The Purrfect Package. The One is gonna wake up every day thinking he hit the freaking lottery. And you will feel the same way. And it will be Poignant Poetic Pleasuriffic Potent.

Not sure he can or should be a chef though. You like food too much.

Starving Artist, maybe. Yeah. Word.

Shine on! Au revoir!

    anonymous Oct 17, 2010 9:26am

    you're hilarious. and sweet. and badass:) xo

Bob Weisenberg Oct 15, 2010 7:03pm

Beautifully felt and written, Kathryn.

Bob W.

anonymous Oct 15, 2010 8:29am

Amen, sister.

anonymous Oct 15, 2010 8:04am

so perfectly imperfect kathryn… you are an inspiration to embrace and love yourself, as is. thank you always for sharing .

anonymous Oct 15, 2010 5:34am

Beautiful reminder that though people influence us it is ultimately our decision who we will be.

anonymous Oct 14, 2010 10:55pm

I busboy. You date busboys?

anonymous Oct 14, 2010 6:02pm

Kathryn, thanks for so well penning your joy, then pain, then shift in posture—engaged and edified.

anonymous Oct 14, 2010 5:05pm

as always fantastic…if you read my post this week (open up and say anahata) I think you will know why i love this so much… beautifully written as always. May your heart soar.