Years ago, when my friend and I sat together midst the chaos of preparing lunch for our children, we sometimes dreamed of a day in the future when our children were in school and we could open a little restaurant downtown, where we would ladle out our homemade soups and bake our own bread, to satisfy the noontime appetites of nearby workers. That dream never came to pass, although I do think about it at times as I stir a pot of simmering soup on my kitchen stove.
Later, in the 1990’s, the trend for small shops of all types blossomed, and my heart was filled with a dream of opening a shop of my own, with a hodgepodge of merchandise that was popular in those days that celebrated the Victorian era of a hundred years before. Shops were brimming with teapots, antique lace, old quilts, books and teddy bears. How I longed for a shop in an old brick building where I would always have a pot of coffee brewing and cozy chairs for shoppers to sit and relax. I treasured my visits to the lovely little shops in Stockbridge and Saratoga and Manchester, as ideas blossomed for the merchandise I would carry and the atmosphere I would create in my own shop. I read books about the business of owning a shop, and counted the years until all of my children were grown and I was free to devote my heart and hands to my shop.
However, fate intervened, and instead my husband started an electrical contracting business in which I was responsible for the office administration — not something which interested me, but a necessary turn of events in my life. My dreams were put on hold as I dealt with estimates and shop drawings, and accounting, rather than teacups and lace. When my children were grown, and my dream of a shop could have been fulfilled, I was working instead in the office each day. Time passes swiftly. Fifteen years after opening, our business was forced into bankruptcy by the recession, and at the same time, most of the little shops I had loved to visit were shuttered and replaced by chain stores and a new generation of consumers who had no desire for the types of merchandise these shops had carried.
Recently I read an announcement of sale for a local used-book store. It is a lovely little shop, with the coziness and warmth I had planned for my own shop. And, I do so love books! However, as much as my heart would love to purchase this store, my life is very different now. I have a husband who needs me at home most of the day, grandchildren that I care for before and after school, a paltry income from Social Security, and a dwindling physical stamina.
And so, the dream of a shop of my own will remain an unfulfilled dream. Sometimes, though, the dream itself can be enough. I still imagine the coziness of it all — the aroma of fresh coffee, the cozy chairs, the shelves filled with delicate teacups, lace-covered antique hats, lovely old jewelry, quilts, vases of fresh flowers scattered here and there, and conversations with my customers who would feel so welcome and warmed each time they visited. Possibly, the imaginings are almost as fulfilling as the reality might have been.