I was raised in a small town in Upstate New York. A very small town. As a child my imagination had few limits, but reality was much different. My family owned one television set that gave us three English speaking channels; the other two were from French Canadian stations. But, what was missing most from my life was books. The only library I did have access to was the school library and during summer recess I was out of luck.
My mom loved reading except, like me, she didn't have easy access to books. I do recall that she would get condensed versions of books published by Reader's Digest in the mail and, after she'd read them, they would sit on the metal bookcase we had in our living room next to the Bible. I'd hunger for new reading material and once when I was about ten years old or so, I bought a paperback story of a Dr. Kildare episode from a local five and ten and read it from cover to cover in a matter of hours. But, I still longed for more and when I couldn't find it, I would make up my own stories.
As a child, I was allowed to pretend, but as I grew older, I was given the impression that people like me--meaning those of us raised in a rural area, especially of the female gender--were to put away those "childish things" and accept life as it was. So, I got married, raised my children, and dabbled in writing until I made some challenging choices and took some risks.
Therefore, the fact that I'd not only went on to become a published author, I'd co-own a bookstore in the vibrant town of Rockville Centre, Long Island is amazing to some. (I wrote about the beginning of that journey here.) How could something like that happen to this kid from Smalltown, USA? How does it happen for two women, my business partner and me, with a number of odds against them?
It's not easy to answer, other than the fact that I refused to be someone who lived to regret not having taken a chance. We all talk about what we would like to make happen in our lives while some sigh with defeat without putting any effort, and, well, continue to accept what is. It's only been six weeks since my business partner and I opened Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine. But many people who have walked in, their eyes wide, mouths agape, say, "I always dreamed of doing something like this." They then accept the tour we give them, going from the non-fiction to children's rooms, from fiction to the bar/café, in awe while some ask, "Was it hard to do?"
I suppose when people see the shelves fully stocked with books of every genre, cards, candles, then turn the corner to see the café where we sell wine by the glass and beer on tap, among other menu items, it appears that it was just a matter of filling those shelves, but there was also the small matter of filling out stacks of forms, applying for loans and basically putting our lives and savings at risk, not to mention the patience to have the actual physical work done. And, yet, here we are having just had our ribbon cutting and a couple of weeks from our grand opening celebration.
So, was it hard? I suppose it was and still is, but I knew it would be. However, living with regret would have been much more difficult for me.