I visited my family in Boston a couple of weeks ago. My mom, older sister and younger brother live in Natick and Wellesley, and my younger sister and her sons flew in from Seattle. We were only missing my older brother in LA, and my dad, who passed away a few years ago and whom all of us hold in our hearts so tightly I know he must feel it. I love spending time with my family. We are all creatures of routine and this is what we do: go out for breakfast, visit my father’s grave, hit every thrift store in town, attend a cornball movie that leaves us all weeping, engage in sporting activities, drink local beers, and watch Dancing with the Stars in total silence because my mother would kill us if we interrupted her laser-like focus.
Staying with my mom in the house I grew up in always brings back so many memories. I pass by the elementary and junior high schools on my daily walks around the neighborhood, and notice so many changes! Younger couples have added front porches and colorful landscaping to enhance a sense of community and liveliness in a formally backyard-oriented neighborhood. Most of the homes, including my mom’s, now feature large additions which put laundry rooms, master bedrooms and baths on the ground floor. Because of these thoughtful, practical renovations, older folks like my mom continue to enjoy their homes and feel safer surrounded by younger families.
My high school will be demolished in June. A new high school now stands right beside it, ready for students in the fall. Three of my high school friends and I decided to pay a last visit to the old school, going in after hours and touring the halls, reminiscing about teachers, friends, and funny shared memories. I wasn’t a fan of high school, but I dearly love my friends and our visit allowed me to remember the good times and let go of some negative ones. While walking the halls, we met a janitor who asked us how long it had been since high school and one of us said, “Thirty years.” Thirty years! We looked at each other and I think we all felt a little old. We took a picture in front of a concession stand inside the school, next to the gym.
Upon my return to Asheville, I put more energy into the home we recently moved to in East Asheville. By Barrett standards it is by far the smallest, most modest home in the family. However, backyard bear visits, beautiful flower-filled landscaping that I’ve worked hard on for the last 6 months, and a quiet, friendly neighborhood have created a home for me that is comforting and relaxing. The place really cries out for some garden gnomes or the monolithic rabbits gracing almost every front yard in the hood, but I think I have to stop at gargoyles or my husband and dog will leave me. I miss my family when I leave them, and wish I could import them, but I do deeply appreciate Asheville, and my job as a bookseller. I have the perfect job for me—funny, talented coworkers, a genius boss, delightful customers, the best coffee in town, and books, books, books! I also get to meet authors whose work inspires me every day.
Speaking of thirty years, Malaprop’s turns 30 this June. We have many fun events planned, not least of which is our June 1st storewide sale! Please mark your calendars and visit us! And stay tuned on twitter and facebook for specials throughout the month. Whenever I visit family or travel around the country, I always notice that there is no place like Malaprop’s and my life, and the lives of many of my coworkers and customers are so much richer for its presence. Please join me in wishing Malaprop’s and her founder, Emoke B’Racz, a very happy 30th birthday!!!