People are always saying 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. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It’s a lovely store, and in a week it’ll be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it’ll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it’s a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that’s the sort of thing I’m always saying. But the truth is… I’m heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right.
Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail (don’t judge, it fits)
Ever since I actually made the decision to close, it seems that this damn movie has been on cable non-stop. It doesn’t matter when I’m watching, it just seems to be on somewhere. (It probably doesn’t help that I have 300+ channels, either…) Confession Time: It’s also one of those movies that I secretly (or not-so-secretly now) love. I have to watch it when it’s on. I can recite huge chunks of dialogue from it. I love the premise. I am a sucker for a romantic comedy. However, now when I watch it, I watch with morbid curiosity. I wonder – even though I know exactly how the movie ends – how it will all go for Kathleen. More often than not of late, I end up in tears right around this point. Especially when she takes the “Shop Around the Corner” sign home. I can’t take pleasure in the romantic part of the romantic comedy because all I can see is a small business going under, despite all efforts to stop the pull. Perhaps it’s because I can relate to it all too closely?
There are definite differences: Kathleen owned her business, inherited it from her mother, actually; I ran this business and inherited all the headaches and debt from the owner – who still owns the business, but can’t be bothered to have anything to do with it. I’ve been here for almost 6.5 years, a long time for anyone these days, and the shop has become such a part of me… I spent the better part of the last year, keeping us afloat – taking on the lease in my name, paying bills and employees and not myself, working by myself for long stretches, all in the name of keeping the shop afloat. Things that a manager shouldn’t have to do, but that an owner should. Where was the owner in all of this, you may ask? She ran off to London, followed a guy there (nevermind that he was married and so was she at the time), and blissfully forgot all about her responsibilities on this side of the Atlantic. I haven’t seen her since she left, though she’s been in the area twice, and I’ve only talked to her on the phone once. In just over 4 years. Yes, you read that correctly.
I realize that I sound extremely bitter in that last paragraph. To be honest, I am. I’ve had to take care of a business that is not mine, which, admittedly wasn’t all that bad, but I’ve had to deal with headaches that I shouldn’t have. I’ve taken more on my plate than most people would have. Quite frankly, I’ve been a doormat. She did all that because I allowed her to do it. She knew that I’d never leave. She knew that while I could have many times over the years, I wouldn’t just lock the door behind me and leave. She knew that I cared about our customers more than she ever did. Bitter, party of one? Your table is available.
So, yes. I have a shop. It is a lovely shop. My shop is closing. Soon it’ll be a memory. A memory in the minds of those I taught to knit, those who sat around the table with me on many a Late Night, those who came from far away to visit. While I’m excited (and frightened) about what the future holds, I am heartbroken. I loved this shop like it was mine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. This chapter is closing and I’m starting a new one. Here’s to that. ::holding up a glass of champagne:: And yes, I will be taking home the sign.