"People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all . . . has happened."
- You've Got Mail
My store is closing.
My store is closing, and in two weeks, I'll pack up boxes of books and product, and I'll make the 45-minute trek up the road to Thomasville, Georgia, where I'll be working -- and who knows, maybe living -- for the next season of this life.
Eight months ago, when Jordan and I first discussed the possibility of quitting my corporate job and managing this tiny store in midtown, we left no stone unturned. It's our nature, I think, to over analyze, to pro-con the mess out of things. So we discussed, at length, what we would do if the store didn't last.
We discussed, and we decided: We wanted to do it anyway. We were willing to take the risk in order to see if this dream that had been percolating in my mind for so long might have the gumption to survive.
It turns out, by the way, that I love this job. It is hard, hard work, and some days, it can be just as mundane as a desk job. But there are these moments that make up for it all, moments when a kid reads a book in a corner, or I connect with a customer about a book club selection. Through the hard and easy days, it has been such a relief to know that a dream can come true, a relief to know: I can do this. I am doing this.
The store isn't closing because it is failing. Jordan and I didn't count on that back when we were counting the cost of things. We didn't discuss what we'd do if the business thrived, but the owner wanted to pull back resources and focus on one location.
News of the store's closing, then, came as a shock. When something is financially succeeding, when a small business is embraced by the community, you just kind of assume it will all keep going, as-is, unchanged. Because why change what's working?
But as with corporate business, small businesses must go where the money is. And the store's owner -- who I have a lovely relationship with -- is changing directions. She's growing her family, and she's choosing to turn all of her finances and attention to her larger store. And because of some new directions in her life, she has graciously offered me the chance to join her in Thomasville as owner of The Bookshelf.
It is a huge opportunity, and lots of friends and family have offered me their congratulations on this next step.
The thing is, though, it hurts. All of it. This little Tallahassee store? It has become mine. The customers, the books, the displays? I've cultivated and curated those things. And it's simply not in my nature to say goodbye easily.
I don't want to tell loyal customers and friends we're closing. I don't want to shut down story time. I don't want to explain the ins and outs. I'm simply not ready to mourn this chapter yet.
So the congratulations feel premature.
And the excitement comes and goes in waves.
Because this would mean big change -- big risk -- for us. Financially. Geographically.
Owner, I'm sure you understand, is quite different from manager. And Thomasville is different from Tallahassee.
For the next two months, then, I'll be working in Thomasville, commuting to that flagship store every day to get the hang of things. To meet new faces, to grasp new tasks, to see if we all mesh together as easily as I hope.
Come August, Jordan and I will be more equipped to make a final decision. Though of course, things are obviously leaning a certain way. I wouldn't be sharing this if we weren't ready to make some type of announcement. Come August, we'll sign papers, maybe even buy a home.
There's a lot still up in the air, but I'm tired of bearing the burden alone. (I don't know what I'd have done these past few months without Jordan, my family, and, if I'm being honest, Netflix.) I finally needed to write it all out, to clear my head, to explain why I've been silent, absent, and a little confused.
A lot is going on in my corner of the world, and much of it is outside my control.
Today, then, I'm choosing to focus on saying goodbye, on mourning this very short chapter of what continues to be an adventurous, lovely life. It has been absolutely wonderful, a learning experience I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world.
And even though it hurts, I am choosing to believe my dear friend Kathleen Kelly.
Closing the store -- saying goodbye -- is the brave thing to do.