I have no idea if this is kosher or not, but I guess I just figure: What's a girl got to lose? And Don, if you're reading this, I tried really hard to find your email address, really I did. (And I mean that in the least creepy way possible.)
I've been meaning to write you for months now, maybe years. I was in college when I read Blue Like Jazz for the first time, and a few years later, I was in a corporate job I liked but didn't love, when I picked up A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. You were the first person -- in my life, anyway -- to point out this idea of life as story, and I knew I didn't like the one I was living. Parts of it were beautiful, but I worried about whether I was being brave, taking risks. Together, my husband and I prayed for new openings, and as if on cue, they arrived. Big and scary opportunities that have brought us to a life that looks completely different from the one we were leading a couple of years ago.
And no, we're not missionaries in a foreign land. We didn't make a cross country move. But we did buy a bookstore. And we did move to a small, Southern town unlike any place we've lived before.
The story we're living? It's pretty darn good, and we owe our adventure to a lot of people, including you.
After I read A Million Miles and prayed a lot of prayers and cried a lot of tears, I quit my decent corporate job and began managing a newly-opened bookstore in my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida. One year in, the owner had a proposition: She wanted to close the Tallahassee store, but maintain her larger shop in nearby Thomasville, Georgia. She was done -- ready to raise her family and begin new endeavors -- but she didn't want to see the store die. I didn't either, and because I've always had Kathleen Kelly-inspired dreams, I bought in.
Because my husband and I never half-ass anything (we're oldest children and don't know how), we moved. While other friends were leaving for Nashville and Boulder and Jacksonville and Atlanta and Chicago, we packed our bags for tiny Thomasville. So I own a bookstore in a world where people like cheap books shared instantly on their phones and tablets. We live in a small, slow town when most people our age are going bigger, farther. Our story is weird and risky and scary and honestly? Not always fun. But it's good, and it's better than it was, and I wanted to say thank you.
And yes, I also have this tiny little wish that you might consider a book signing at my independent bookstore. Your new book comes out the week of my 29th birthday, and I think it'd be so fun to celebrate by hosting you at The Bookshelf in Thomasville. Thomasville is a lovely town, and The Bookshelf is something special. And I know it's a long shot, but I read this book once about taking risks. And I guess I figured: Why not? So thanks for encouraging this journey. My life is better -- really, truly -- after reading and thinking about your books.
See you in the shop?