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Three Years and the Paradox of Celebration and Grief

Monday marks the third anniversary of the Grand Opening of Habetrot's Wheel.


Three years...


It's a bittersweet anniversary for me because so much of my opening the store and the behind-the-scenes work is tied up in time I spent with my Mom. She's the one who helped me tag the inventory and put it up on the shelves. She's the one who helped me decorate the store and the big window, the one who ooh-ed and ahh-ed over samples, who acted as my sounding board. She's the one who never questioned my decision to leave academia and who understood how very much I hated teaching (loved the research and the writing; despised teaching). She's the one who helped me figure out how to re-enter life in the town I grew up in after I was gone for twenty years (which, believe me, was not an easy feat; it's quite jarring when you go from living places where you built your own life to returning to one where your life had been built for you). She's the one I confided in, laughed with, watched movies and Rachel Maddow with. And now she's gone, and I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest the way my Mom was ripped from my life because pancreatic cancer is a cold, nasty bitch.


I know she'd be happy that the shop made it three years--and not just any three years when two and a half of those years were spent during a global pandemic that is currently seeing yet another surge in case numbers. Over the past three years, I've done a lot of worrying and had a lot of sleepless nights because that's what you do when you own a small business. She would tell me to not worry so much and that everything would work itself out.


My dear friend Ann suggested I hand the photo I have of my parents in the shop on the day we met with my landlord to initially look at the space, and I did. The photo shows my Mom with this small smile on her face, her expression telegraphing how much potential she saw in what I wanted to do. My Dad, on the other hand, is running a hand through his hair and clearly looks like he isn't quite sure what I was getting in to (and he admits that yes, that is what he was thinking). It's the perfect embodiment of that moment, and what I love about it is that my Mom's spirit--that spirit of seeing potential and of imagination--is so present. Her spirit is the spirit that inspired me to open the store in the first place because the creative potential wrapped up in a hank of yarn, rolag, or roving braid is the root of what I so love about fiber craft. Before you do anything, before you even pick out a pattern sometimes, the texture, the smell, the color of the fiber strands themselves can catch that spark of inspiration.


And that spirit didn't dissipate when the project out of that fiber was finished--even if it wasn't exactly what you initially pictured in your head, even if there were mistakes or odd sections that you aren't sure really worked, even if the fit wasn't quite what you wanted or the colors didn't do precisely what you had hoped... Mom was great about always seeing the greatness of a finished project, of saying "who will know?" when mistakes were pointed out, of still seeing the beauty even when all I could see were the half dozen times I had to frog and start over.


So, as HW turns three on the 25th and enters its fourth year on the 26th, I'm clinging to that part of my Mom's spirit--the part with boundless optimism and hope, the part that believed things would be okay even if they weren't exactly planned.



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