In The Beginning

I shouldn’t be here…

Well, maybe saying that I shouldn’t be here gives off a negative connotation. Let me try something else.

I never thought I would be here, in this store, watching the light bounce off my newly painted silver metallic walls. I never thought I would still be here in the store.

But then again I didn’t think my mom would be dead six months after I turn 21.

I was a happy kid, a truly happy kid. I’m not completely sure how I turned out to be such an anti-social jaded person before the ripe age of 30, but such is life and I’m working with what I’ve got. When I was young I ran around, smiling and laughing. I vacuumed naked (which was one of my favorite things to do as a small child) and ran through our 1 acre property that I grew up on that was perched off of Panoramic Avenue on Mt. Tamalpais here in Mill Valley. My parents were supportive and loving. They gave me everything I could desire to grow into an intelligent young person relatively capable of making my own decisions in this world that simultaneously stuns us with beauty and knocks the wind out of our chests.

Like many others, my parents parted ways and I grew up as a child of divorce. Honestly it never bothered me. I didn’t mind that my parents lived in two different houses. It was kinda fun. It allowed me to shop more (yes, I can be somewhat of a shopaholic but then again I did grow up in retail) and I loved filling my two distinctly different rooms up with new furniture and two sets of clothes.

My father, who diligently picked me up and took me to school every morning since I can remember, played Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and Dire Straits in the car. When I think back now I know where I got my tastes for music that did not necessarily come from the 80’s (the decade I was born in). After school I would come back to the store where my mom was working  (always home base) and do my homework. The moment I was done I would begin to work the floor, fitting clients in hats and chatting it up with the locals who were at least three times my age. I would continue this pattern during all the years of my youth…

Twice a year (of course at a time when it wasn’t the busy season at the store) I would take a two week trip with my father. I remember getting off the plane for the first time in Italy, mesmerized by the foreign language that rolled off of tanned mens tongues and how the women, although clad in black and leather, could never be more elegant. I was lucky enough to grow up with Europe at my fingertips and to use not only immerse myself in their culture to help shape my personality, but also my taste in fashion, art, history and interior design.

I would return to the States (tanner, even during the winter) donning thick black eyeliner and boots so skyscraper tall that I towered high above my stature of only 5 feet. Funny enough, I’m now 5 foot 2 inches (as my Kaiser nurse told me I’ve grown within the last three years) and you’ll still find me in either four inch Blahnik heels or platform Moon Boots (my newest obsession from Florence). My closet was filled to the brim with small perfect oddities that lined the boutique windows of the small streets of Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome.

Red leather Versace pants so soft they crumpled when you took them off laying paper thin like veneer on the floor below. Lame thread infused cashmere coats with wide shawl collars that you could tuck up to brave the freezing cold of the Venetian fog during aqua alta (high water). A cinghiale (wild boar) purse with metallic imprinting and lapis lazuli closure from Fendi was one of my favorite finds and I still wear it to this day.

These influences of texture and color and the passion for fashion drove me to exceed at my job of creating custom hats for clients and fine tuning the store in Mill Valley to have a European edge to it. And I’ve done a good job. Screw it-I’ve done a great job! I’ve succeeded at keeping a niche business around during a difficult time in the economy and have a loyal army of clients who follow me.

Quite different than where I thought I would be. My hands should be stronger, and my tendons already worn out from countless hours of surgery during my residency. But that didn’t happen. I didn’t finish college. I didn’t go on to school to be a veterinarian like I always thought I would have. The small furry animals that I so adore are being taken care of by some amazing D.V.M. that possibly graduated top of their class from UC Davis.

But that was my dream…and now I live another. It’s not like I don’t love what I do. I do, truly…I’m just not where I thought I would be. Not in my wildest dreams.

Sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles now isn’t it…


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