A Change of Venue.

Wow. The last time I let this much time go by between posts, I delivered twins at the end of the hiatus! Thank God that won’t be happening this time (two is enough for me, thank you very much), but I do have some news. Big news, for us. We’re leaving Chicago to move back to Arkansas.

When I moved here, 17 years ago, I was a 26-year-old idiot who barely knew how to take care of herself. It had taken me way too long to get through my undergraduate years (coughdranktoomuchcough) and I had a failed attempt at grad school in theater under my belt. Justin, who was my boyfriend, not husband, at the time, our friend Craig, and I rented a big ol’ honkin’ UHaul truck and hoofed it to the second-biggest city we could think of, because New York scared the crap out of us and Chicago seemed to be a friendly mix of big city and midwest geniality. We wanted to act for a living. Hilarious. We saved all summer prior to moving; even so, I had barely a penny to my name when we hit the city because, in order to convince someone to rent an apartment to three hillbillies from Arkansas with no jobs, we had to put down a security deposit AND three months of rent. Justin and I had a fight that first night we were in the city. I slammed out of the apartment and found myself on a bench at a park down the street from our new home, crying, wondering why I left everyone I loved to move to this city full of strangers with a boyfriend I now hated. Passionately. (That hatred lasted two more hours, by the way.)

(Looking back at it now, I wonder how my parents did it, how they let me leave and move 500 miles away to a city whose murder rate at that time numbered among the nation’s highest. I know I was 26, clearly an adult, but now that I have kids of my own, I’m already wondering if there’s some way I can keep them within 50 miles of me at all times until they’re 50. How lucky I am to have parents that sacrificed their peace of mind for my freedom. I pray that, when the time comes, I will be as generous.)

My first job was at a bagel store. I can’t remember how I got it. It wasn’t remotely by our apartment, so maybe I answered a want ad. It wasn’t a chain, but an independent little shop run by a guy from Colorado who had family money and had sunk it all into this business venture (he named it Rocky Mountain Bagel Company. Go figure.). We opened at 6 am and I had to be there at 5 am to get things ready. The idea of me making it, on time, to a job at 5 am struck everyone who knew me as hilarious. But I did it. I made minimum wage and I and whoever was working with me split the tip jar at the end of a shift. This wasn’t enough to keep me afloat so I got a second job at the Crate and Barrel Outlet store, which turned out to be an AMAZING place to work because I could get really cool stuff really cheap. And everyone that worked there was really interesting — it was a second job for almost everyone there, so there were a lot of teachers, students, and such to chat with. I worked 12 hour days for a while. Eventually I got the job at the publishing house, which was great, and turned into a nine-year career, that turned into me going back to school, which turned into me working as a guidance counselor for the last seven years. Geez. A lot has happened, hasn’t it?

We all worked in theater throughout that time; I was the first person to get an acting gig, which meant I got dinner purchased for me by the other two boys, per our bet upon moving into the big city. I worked with a few really great companies and had a wonderful time and met some fabulous people but eventually you start resenting the fact that you’re spending 30+ hours a week doing something outside of your regular work hours that doesn’t net you any pay, and the love of the craft is sort of muted by your sheer exhaustion and the nagging feeling that you should be investing more time into developing a real “career” that would actually allow you to support a family in the near future and the whole acting part of your life falls by the wayside.

So I accomplished what I wanted to do here, I guess. I worked in theater. I found a career that lends meaning to my life. I married my sweet, sweet husband and had two charming little babies. I made so many friends who have been such a huge part of my life it is difficult to imagine my days without them.

It is hard to leave a city where so many good things happened.

Even before the babies were born I started thinking about moving back. My family lost my brother to a car accident when he was 17 so the fragility of life has never been lost on me. As the years went by, we all started getting older, and in 2001 the world got a little darker, and I started thinking about how I would feel about these years that I spent so far apart from my family should something happen to any of us. It was lonely and sad, listening on the other end of the phone as they all celebrated momentous occasions together. My nieces grew up and graduated from high school and new nieces and a nephew were born.  I knew I would regret the time I missed out on and knew that I would wonder about the decisions I had made in taking a path that kept me so far away from the people I love most in the world. I love this city, and I love my friends, but of course, I love my family more. And then, suddenly, I had my own family, and these kids of mine were missing out on really getting to know these wonderful people who lived so far away, and the clock started sincerely ticking. So when Justin, after many interviews, got an offer at a wonderful company, we knew we had to take it, even though it meant leaving halfway through a school year, leaving behind the people that we had grown to love and a city that felt more like home than did the city we originated in.

In a perfect world, we would not have to make this choice; the people I love would be in the city I love. But nothing is perfect, and we are making a decision that is ripping our hearts out and filling those same broken hearts with joy. Very difficult to describe. There are many issues here that are child-specific, but I’m not going to bore you with those details (like the rest of this isn’t boring?? you’re all now saying) but will instead bore those who read Zero to Twins with that story.

Whew. Sorry. Had to get that off of my chest. Let’s talk about how this will affect the thrifting side of me, shall we?

Well, let’s be honest. We’re going from a city with a population of 2.7 million to one of 75,000. My thrifting/yard sale/estate sale habits will suffer. But I have thrifty friends in the area who have great success, nonetheless, so I have faith that there’s plenty of great stuff out there. And since I won’t be working for a while but instead staying home with the kiddies, I’m thinking some road trips might be in order to neighboring towns to see what treasures they may hold. Plus, St. Louis is only four hours away. And Tulsa is only an hour and a half. There are lots of opportunities for goodies. But more importantly, it means that the Pretty. Quirky. booth will hopefully be back in business! Hooray! I’m on the hunt right now for a mall that will take me and I’m so excited at the prospect of actually being in the same town with my booth! Imagine! I can fluff it every day! The mind reels!

Hopefully, this means more fodder for the blog, because you know how much I love talking about my booth.

Thanks for listening, friends. I might not be writing a whole lot of the next couple of weeks but look for updates once we’re settled in.


November 18, 2012 - 11:08 pm

Shara I heard a rumor you were coming back. Heck, I think Arkansas is a great place and I do alright thrifting. Of course, now with more competition from YOU, I might suffer. ha. 🙂 My booth in my shop in PG is doing great – we have a really great look going in the store right now and are expanding to the next building over in February. SO, if you are interested in PG, the mecca of Flea Markets – I can most likely get you in my shop. You’ll have to come out and visit when you get back. I work on Tuesdays and I’d love to actually meet you and meet those darling babies. Happy travels!

November 19, 2012 - 8:14 am

Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage I’m not sure where in Arkansas you’re headed, but a dear friend of mine lives in the NW part of the state and she thrifts the most AMAZING stuff! I’m always envious of her finds. So don’t give up hope–the thrifting might be better than you expect! Good luck with your move!

November 19, 2012 - 10:25 am

Shara Heidi is talking about ME! 🙂

November 19, 2012 - 10:26 am

Shara Heidi is talking about me. 🙂

November 19, 2012 - 11:02 am

Kathy Epley Lara Jo, That is big news, and I am really happy for you and your family. Thanks for sharing about your early adult years and the adventures you’ve had. After 2 years of college, I entered the Army and was stationed at Ft. Belvoir, VA. I didn’t have a car, but could hop a Metro Bus and head into DC on weekends. And my sister’s family lived in Maryland, so I got to enjoy their 3 kids when they were young; their oldest will soon be 43… =) And thank goodness for Facebook and Skype today where you’ll be able to sit at your desk at home and keep in touch with the friends you’ve made over the years. Your twins will get to grow up knowing and spending lots of time with more family, and I think that’s probably the best part of it all! We have some family in Galena, MO, and also friends in the Bella Vista area, so maybe, someday, I’ll stop in your shop and get to meet you. Have a wonderful holiday season! Sincerely, Kathy Epley

November 25, 2012 - 12:32 pm

Lara Jo Oh, thank you so much, Kathy. Would be lovely to meet you in person one day!!

November 25, 2012 - 12:32 pm

Lara Jo You were one of the people I was thinking about too, Shara!!

November 25, 2012 - 12:34 pm

Lara Jo That’s exactly where we’re headed, Heidi! I think we’re talking about the same person. 🙂 Also have some good friends who have booths and sell on eBay and do quite well, so I have high hopes. Thanks for your well wishes and thanks for stopping by!

November 25, 2012 - 12:41 pm

Lara Jo Thank you, Shara, I may take you up on that! I can’t wait to see your booth in person. You’ll know it’s me when I walk in the door with two tornadoes on the end of my arms. 🙂 Can’t wait to meet you face-to-face and I promise never to elbow you out of the way at a sale!!