Wednesday, April 2, 2008
'The Man' Tales - One Straw Too Many
Click on the pic to enlarge!
The first picture shows the store with the temporary sign still up. Eventually a lovely sign was painted onto that feathered front. When the store closed, one of those beautiful chandeliers ended up in my dining room. I cherish it as my parents bought it in Montreal for their very first store. And Yes - that is D at the temporary counter before the beautiful oak counter was installed. The needlepoint you see is one my mother did. I taught her how to do needlepoint on this project, helped her buy every single skein of wool and pick out the frame. Where it ended up is another story.
Before we began this massive renovation, D and I took a holiday with my best friend from Guelph and her two small children. When they got off the plane in Calgary, we bundled them into my two door sporty car and headed off to one of the most westerly parts of Canada – Tofino, British Columbia. This meant fitting five people into a two-door vehicle. Grant it, two of them were small – ages four and five…but one was tall with long legs.
My friend had never approved of my dating a younger man, and she seemed to resent this new person in our friendship. I knew she had always hoped I would stay single so when her turn came, I would be waiting with open arms for her to join me on the front porch with our rocking chairs.
This caused a rift between her and D. In fact, the rift was so large that I was caught between the two and was constantly trying to keep each of them happy. My girlfriend refused to listen to anything that D had to say. As the holiday continued, it got to the point that if D spoke – she acted like nothing had been said. As she stated ‘she wasn’t going to listen to anyone 21 years younger than her’.
Now I have been friends with this person for over twenty years, and I felt obligated to make her holiday a happy one and to also keep our friendship intact. On the other hand, I had a new love in my life and I thought she should be happy for me. And I thought the new love in my life should also like my girlfriend. Or at least I hoped he would.
But when silences prevailed throughout the car and I was the one who had to keep the peace, it became difficult. She never once offered D the front seat and got angry when D begged that we pull over so he could stretch his legs. She never even offered to pull the seat forward so he would have more room, instead he could barely walk each time he got out of the car.
The word Fiasco sums that holiday up nicely. By the time I put her and her children back on the plane 10 days later, I thought that pressure valve was going to blow. Instead, we turned around and started on this renovating project. A silence of a number of years settled over the friendship from the East and it upset me incredibly. We eventually worked it out. However, to go from talking every couple of days to nothing is hard to do and to get use to. However, I had other things on my mind in the beginning that only added to my stress.
Those six weeks of renovating did not get me out of my duties at the store that was still open and operating. I spent many days running back and forth when I was called on to settle problems that arose in the first location. There wasn’t a phone yet in the new location and invariably someone would pound on the locked doors and ask me to come and help. I would stride through the mall, covered in plaster and paint in my raggedy work jeans and then try not to get anything dirty as I eased my way into the backroom. Many of the problems involved the building of the new store; problems that my mother could not have solved on her own. However, the payroll was still my job and still had to be done and many other functions that had always been under my control.
When the new store finally opened, new problems came with it and they mostly fell on my shoulders. I could understand my mother not being able to carry it all especially since Dad was no longer alive and she couldn’t ask him. When the winter stock arrived, it only added to the pressure. To facilitate a larger showroom, we of course had to have a smaller workroom. When the new stock arrived, boxes and boxes of it, it was a race to get it out of the workroom so we could breathe. I spent more 18-hour days trying to get it all tagged and into the system.
At the end of my last 18-hour day, I drove home to a patiently waiting D and fell into my bed and rose later than usual the next morning. In a panic, I raced to the store and arrived at 11am. My mother took one look at me and said “It must be nice to be able to wander in here whenever you please.” I looked at all the neatly tagged coats hanging on the racks and the missing boxes. I stood there with my head hanging with exhaustion – and something inside me snapped. Picking up my coat that I had just removed, I put it back on and walked out the back door.
Getting in my car I started to cry and I cried all the way home. And then I couldn’t stop. I cried for days – without stopping. When my mother came to the door three days later, D wouldn’t let her in. While I sobbed hysterically in the dining room, he told her that her presence wouldn’t be the best thing for me at the moment. She informed him she would never forget this and left. I continued to sob hysterically. Eventually D called my friend ‘N’ and the two of them took me for a little drive to the big hospital in the big city. The saying ‘better late than never’ fits very well here.