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Listen To The Old Store Speak

The lights in the left front store window looked like they had fallen. Now the symmetry was off. And I don’t like crooked.

“Damn. I need to go over there and fix that,” I said aloud to myself. And there was a time when I would have.

I re-opened my grandmother’s general  store in 1984 and worked alone there many nights. After the babies were asleep, I could clean, sort, price and merchandise without interruption. It was alone time…just my English springer spaniel, Bean Dog, and me. There was very little traffic at night at the Crossroads. It was quiet. And all young mothers relish the quiet.


The old store smelled the same as it did when I was kid. I could almost taste the Johnnie Cakes and Nu-Grapes. I could see Granny Lois standing in front of the fireplace  — backed up to the open flame as close as she could get, with her dressed hiked up just enough to get some extra warmth and still be modest.

Working over there in the solitude was like stepping into the past. Back then, the store was the Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram feed for the community. Most of the women with children — including my mama — would meet there in the afternoons and “post, share and comment.” We kids played like dirt road heathens…which we were. Educated and well-mannered dirt road heathens, mind you, but still heathens.

But now, times are different. Things have changed. Last evening, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a steady stream of traffic flowing through the intersection. I’m pretty gutsy but I’m also cautious. I constrantly admonish my grown children to be careful up there in the ATL: “Lock your car doors as soon as you get in. Don’t walk alone anywhere after dark. And nothing good happens after midnight.” They’ve heard it thousands of times. So, I knew I had no business going over there and screwing around with Christmas lights. “It’ll have to wait until tomorrow, ” I sighed.

Stuff changes, my friends. Affections change. Jobs change. Life changes. Reality hits and in order to survive, sometimes we must also change.

Does it hurt?

Sure. But anytime we improve, it hurts.

Getting stronger physically hurts. Start working out and see what you feel.

And getting stronger emotionally and mentally hurts, too. But it’s worth it.

The alternative to moving forward is staying stuck in the past — a dimension that has already occurred and will never exist again. We can’t get it back and if we did, we’d exchange something very precious for it — the present — a dimension that is full of all the previous joy we want to remembert and void of the pain we are free to forget.

The old store has graced the corners s at Jones Crossroads, Ga., for 113 years. She is full of a wonderful past and ready for what the future brings.

But above all, she revels in the present.

Just as we all should do.

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