Another year... wiser
Yesterday was my birthday, which means that exactly one year ago, this dream was born.
We came to Tucson for a b-day trip and while visiting in June -- when the Tucsonans are largely gone because the heat has taken a turn from pleasant to UGH is odd -- we had an ulterior motive. We’d started to get the bug to leave Taos.
The Pandemic was hard on tiny towns. But not only is Taos small, it survives on tourism. So, when Americans were told to stay home for 2 years, they bombarded safe little hamlets like ours by the droves, instead. And as a result, we were exhausted! I’d personally worked 6 days a week for the better part of three years, sometimes seeing as many as 200 people a day. All the while dreaming about selling beautiful old things to people with beautiful old homes.
So, while in Tucson last June, we snooped around some vacant commercial spaces. We visited our favorite shopping haunts and made a point of finding all the new ones. We fell in love with the thriving restaurant scene and toodled around through various historic districts, admiring all the different types of architecture.
We vowed to come home and get our ducks in a row.
It wouldn’t be until a return visit in October (one in which we didn’t even tell anybody where we were going) that we found the space near Flora’s. It was love at first sight! The location, the exposed brick… The proximity to UofA and UMC, the fact that it’s surrounded by historic districts and IN one of the best neighborhoods in the city. And, at that time, the space was chock full of jewelry cases and restaurant storage. But, it didn’t matter because we could see the potential. We began commercial lease negotiations almost instantly.
Now many of you might know that part but here’s where it gets truly interesting. In December, we went to a holiday event in Taos that was a combination of a tree lighting event and a pop-up at our friend’s salon. She had a guy out front making dumplings, two of our friends selling their jewelry and wares inside, and back near the blow dryer chairs, a Tarot reader. I hadn’t had a reading since I was 20 years old and yes, THAT is another great story that I will save for another time. But, with the excitement we had started to feel from the impending massive life change we were trying to manifest, I thought it was a good time to take a chance and do it again.
The reader was a lovely Grandma-type in her 80’s. I sat across from her and she held my hands for a moment and asked me to come up with one question for the cards. I looked deep into her eyes and said matter-of-factly, “We have a huge life change coming up. I’d like to know how it’s going to go.”
She pulled the first card and said, “Oh…it’s not going to be easy.” Well, it turns out that was the understatement of the year! She then said, “In fact, it comes with a visual.” She put her hands up next to the side of her head, closed her eyes, made a pain-ridden face and shook her clenched fists with rage. “Yep,” I said, “That’s exactly how I feel.” The lease negotiations were already tough. We’d hired a lawyer with which there were back and forth emails and phone calls between us, her, the commercial realtor, the property owner, the owner’s assistant, etc, etc. It was adulting at an all-time icky level that to these former slackers, was stressful as hell.
But back to the reading. With the second card she said, “Communication will be key! You’ll have a community. Everything will be new and less old-fashioned. But everything will be much better than before if you remember to practice communication along the way.”
Third card. “You will be surrounded by unbelievable BEAUTY.”
To a certain extent, I already knew that. The second I saw the space; I could visualize the incredible shop it could be. I’d been looking for a space like this all my life! And in my minds’ eye, I could see every detail. Having long since retired my drafting tools, conveying my vision to Robin could sometimes be a challenge but thankfully, he knows me well enough to completely trust my vision.
What I didn’t know is that the “unbelievable beauty” forecast would translate to our entire lives. You see, moving the business was just a puzzle piece. We also had a house to sell and a house to buy. And, for the first time in our 30 years together, we were hell-bent on NOT buying a fixer upper. So as much as our umbrella goal was to have a viable business in a thriving city, the second level of that was to upgrade our home life.
Our house hunt was two-fold. We wanted an OLD HOME that hadn’t been ruined by flippers but wasn’t in rough shape and it absolutely had to be close to our shop. We’d gotten spoiled by our four-minute commute in Taos so while the outskirts of Tucson is riddled with cool and often BIG mid-century houses, we couldn’t stomach the idea of a 20-minute commute in traffic. Plus, I’ve always wanted a bungalow…
Once we signed the lease, we were granted four months to make the move. We had to stage and sell our house, fix up the Tucson space, do business as long as we could in Taos, find a Tucson house, liquidate as much as possible, and pack & move. Four months may seem ample, but it flew by in a flash!
In February, Robin came over to start painting and working on the space. I’d call him at night and give him a list of drive-by’s to make. He’d report back about the neighborhood or condition of the house and then I’d reach out to our Tucson realtor if it was something worth seeing and her husband would meet Robin there, they’d reach out to me on FaceTime, and together we’d all “walk through.”
The house we eventually bought ended up being one of the very first we saw. Everything else paled in comparison to it! Our first obligatory “lowball” offer was refused even though the owner admitted that he had a feeling we were his buyers. I’d written a letter to him expressing why our offer was low (expense of relocating a business) and how much we loved the house. He’d taken a 1944 bungalow and restored it to its original glory. Like many older homes, it had been badly remodeled in the 80’s or 90’s, so he’d hired an architect to redo it RIGHT. He restored the original oak floors and windows but added custom cabinets in the kitchen and bath, professional grade appliances, new roof, new HVAC, new landscaping, 40’s inspired tile, honed-stone countertops, and recessed lighting throughout. In essence, the house was the ultimate blend of old & new. How could it not be “the one?”
We tried to settle on others but luckily, they didn’t work out. So, after a long, stressful search, with the days and weeks dwindling away before our eyes, we decided to circle back around. Our second offer was accepted but the one thing he wouldn’t agree with was letting us move in early. Apparently, that’s not something people agree to anymore in Tucson, after one incident in which the people burnt the house down prior to closing. Oh well, just like the cards said, NOTHING about this had been easy! It sucked but we just split our belongings between our shop and a storage unit, stayed in an Airbnb for one week and the La Quinta for another. And then, just like waking up from a bad dream, we moved into our unassuming little dreamhouse, just one mile from our soon-to-be new store.
Our lives here are, as predicted, unbelievably beautiful. On every level! (Warning…cavalcade of exclamation marks ahead…) Cooking a meal in our chef’s kitchen is a dream! Bouncing/rocking in our vintage patio chairs while our dogs chase lizards in our manicured yard is awesome! We have the weekends off due to our incredible staff, so we enjoy our two favorite pastimes: estate-saling and the Farmer’s Market! We get to eat out in a town with an incredible food scene and go for mani/pedis, and couples’ massages! We’ve been to Los Angeles TWICE and Ellie has been here as much! My Dad is only 2.5 hours away! Our home is situated within a great historic district that recycles EVERYTHING! We can walk to a fab breakfast place or happy hour! Our neighbors never make a peep! We’re situated precisely between TWO Trader Joe’s! There’s a gorgeous restaurant and food shop next to our store! Our shop neighbors are THE BEST! I could just go on and on…
Needless to say, at this point, we made the best decision of our lives. Our business is thriving, we’re happy as bugs in an antique rug, and we’re excited about the future in so many ways! We’re living our best lives. Prophecy fulfilled; gratitude abundant.