Photo: @rachelhelenv on IG
Emily Haynes, Pie Bar
Hello gang, it’s me Emily, your favorite Front of house/Back of House team member with a penchant for irony and pie centered humor.
However, beneath my sharp wit, bubbly personality, and staggering humility, there is a heart. And hearts sometimes can hurt, and heal. This is a story of one such time.
In the fall of 2018 (less than a calendar year before I started working at Pie Bar), I studied abroad in England for a semester. It was a pretty wonderful opportunity. I was living in a very cute London suburb, I had a fantastic roommate and great flat mates, I was seeing world-class theatre on a weekly basis as well as studying with some of the greatest artistic minds I’ve ever encountered. It was a very formative semester and one that I only find myself more grateful for as time goes on.
But, real talk, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I like being home, and despite going to school in Alabama 9 months out of every year, being across an ocean for 4 months was an entirely new experience that almost killed me. I missed my family, I missed my friends. I remember distinctly missing silly things like Shallowford Road and knowing how to get places without a GPS.
Getting to explore a new place is such an amazing journey, and you learn so much about yourself, it’s a breeding ground for internal and external curiosity. But even as I was living 11-year old Emily’s dream, I found myself longing for home like I never had before.
I was in London from August-December, and we all know that season that is: pie season. I’ve been a fan of Pie Bar since they opened and of course I followed them on Instagram because who wouldn’t want gorgeous pictures of pie on their feed at all times?
I had a lot of FOMO that semester (fear of missing out). Every time my friends posted a picture or a show opened at my school, my heart got a little bit sicker. I wanted to be there, and no matter how many pictures of leaves or British Museums I posted, I couldn’t convince myself that I wouldn’t rather be home.
But then, there was Pie Bar. Pie Bar: posting pictures of warm, comforting pies. Pie Bar: posting boomerangs of the rain outside in Woodstock. Pie Bar: saying hello they hope I’m well and did I know they had some slice bags today? Pie Bar: sending me tiny pockets of my home.
And, somehow, it didn’t hurt. Seeing Downtown Woodstock and the couch and hot cups of coffee didn’t make my stomach ache. It didn’t make me want to jump on a plane and head back to the states immediately. They just made me smile. They reminded me that pockets of home don’t need to be geographical. Pie Bar was a set place, but here I was 2,000 miles away still smiling, remembering how walking into Pie Bar makes me feel and thinking of places in Kentish Town that gave me the same feeling.
I spend Thanksgiving abroad that year, my first away from my family. I expected it to be terrible, and thought I would cry the whole day. But do you know something? It was alright. In fact, it was a good day. I still ate my favorite foods, but instead of turkey there was hot shepherd’s pie. I still watched the Parade, but at 3pm instead of 9am. I still celebrated one of my favorite holidays, but with friends instead of family. I was still so grateful to have a day of thanks.
I found so much comfort in that day, so much more than I could have hoped. Not by trying to forget that I wasn’t home or by desperately wishing that the days would go by faster, but by celebrating where I was. By reminding myself that Thanksgiving is just a day, and I was no less grateful or loved because I was spending it somewhere else.
I was still homesick, I still sighed with relief to be back on a plane flying home in December. But I was okay. I was going to make it. I was going to look at pictures of hot rosemary chicken pot pie and remember that my home was still there and it wasn’t going away. I was going to wander the streets around my flat and enjoy the tiny library and eat fish and chips at the local pub. I was going to look at Christmas decorations and swap holiday traditions with my friends who were also missing their families.
And when my plane did finally land, what was my first mission? A warm slice of pie at Pie Bar, to celebrate a homecoming and to thank the people who made being away so much more bearable.
Thanks, Pie Bar. Even two years and lots of emotional growth later, I still owe ya one.