I feel like I’ve been fairly good at staying upbeat despite having to stay-at-home. I’ve tried to exercise regularly, get outside and check-in on at least one friend/relative every day. Not to say I haven’t had my moments.
We recently learned that our favorite locally-owned toy store will not be able to remain open. This is just one of many, many businesses that have been severely impacted by a shutdown that few could prepare for. We tried to support them through curbside pick-up when the brick-and-mortar was closed. It wasn’t enough. When I told my kids this news, they were both upset. My daughter outwardly took it harder than my son. This is typical.
One last time
With businesses beginning to get the green light to open in Florida, we took a trip to our favorite store. This was likely for the last time. They opened to sell off their remaining inventory. We’ve been going to this store since we moved back to Tampa. The staff is amazing. They held free activities that both of my kids loved. It was our go-to spot for gifts. The personalized touch was unparalleled.
The new normal
We arrived at the store, masked and ready to make some purchases. We took what’s currently considered proper precautionary measures. There was a sign on the door that said the occupancy limit was now six customers at a time. Such a far cry from the usually crowded store that just screamed fun and happiness when you walked through its doors.
No holding back
The owner and her manager were both there. I told them how sad we were to hear the news that they were closing. I immediately started to feel the lump in my throat. And then the tears came. I was standing in a toy store while wearing a mask and crying. None of it seemed normal. But it was real. Stop, they said. You’re going to make us cry too. I apologized even though I don’t really know why. I was silently thanking God that my husband and son were in the back shopping and didn’t see. My son is famous for yelling “Mommy’s crying”, just in case anyone isn’t aware and feels the need for a front-row seat.
It’s not about the toys
I moved on to awkwardly browse the costume jewelry right near the front desk. In an effort to redeem myself I told the owner, “It’s not about the toys.” It was the truth. The truth is that peoples’ lives have been turned upside down. The manager mentioned she will likely be moving back to the midwest to be closer to her family. Her current lively-hood will be no longer. These people who had been so kind and welcoming to us are now having to prepare for the next chapter. All of us are in some way. I’ve always been one to get excited over the “to be continued” part of my story. This one is more daunting. These days it feels like a blank stack of paper and a pen with no ink. But there’s always a Plan B and 24 more letters in the alphabet if needed. And I prefer to write in pencil anyway.