dwell in this

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Nothing brings Larkin and I closer, than working on accounting together. And, by closer, I mean closer to the “His and Hers” matching urns of our ashes, that may or may not be scattered in the same general vicinity, someday.

Working together, running a new business these past several months has been a dream come true except for the monthly dose of Quick Books nightmares. Nothing brings on a hot flash faster for me than an Excel Spreadsheet.

Him: How did you code that check? Me: Miscellaneous. (my favorite)  Him: You have to code it a specific expense.  Me: If I had wanted to be an accountant then, I would BE an accountant!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Yep. We are on our own now. No office support staff for L. No full-time housekeeper, helping me to make it all look effortless. It is just him and me, a mom and pop operation, sifting through bank statements, bills and receipts. Sitting at our computers and recounting the week’s sales and expenditures turns me into a 9 year old, trying to sit still in class.  

Me: Hey, look at this pic. Does this dress look blue or gold, to you?  Him: Get off Twitter! It’s blue. Focus!                                                                       

I want to write, paint, build, design, create, dance, sing, watch TCM or have a root canal and a mammogram at the same time. I do not want to work with numbers with my business partner in his work voice. There is a tone in his work voice that I do not care for. I prefer, husband voice.

It is hard to believe that we were once that suburban couple, raising kids in an affluent neighborhood. Our defined roles, so fortunately traditional. I was lucky to be a stay-at-home mom, carpooling to their private schools and volunteering on every committee to make sure that their childhoods were everything that a Disney Channel show promised. I cooked, baked and nurtured those little chickadees until they flew east for college, then migrated to the west for the beginning of the rest of their lives.

He ran the businesses, I ran the house. Our “work” paths never crossed.

The structure of our lives was so scheduled, planned and executed it almost seems impossible to me that we actually adhered to such a manicured time frame. I never overslept once. We lived well. We were happy. We acknowledged our success and fortuitous luck. We were grateful. We enjoyed and savored the moments. Because we knew.

We knew we wanted more. We wanted different.

To think outside the box, you have to know where the lines of the box actually fall. We knew we wanted out of the box, but just how far and what direction?

With all the kids gone, living their own lives, we came to the conclusion that our home away from home, our cottage of 10 years on Martha’s Vineyard, would become just home. My husband’s business partner of 20 years was making big changes in his life that were wreaking havoc on our life. Oh, and that business partner was also our brother-in-law; married to my husband’s sister. Dread, divorce, and dissolution ensued. Yet, a door creaked open. This was our chance for a big change.

(Enter Life) 

We had just moved into the big, beautiful old/new house in the hip-historic-up-and-coming-but-still-sketchy-chic part of Houston, that I had totally renovated. I love houses. Looking at real estate and interior design websites can be a cardio workout for me. We have been blessed with living in some beautiful and unique homes.

But, for the first time in our lives, we were living in my “Lola Dream House”; the house that Jacq built. I poured my heart and soul into that house. I had designed the perfect kitchen, the perfect master closet, the perfect house for entertaining. It was the house you can only build after you have raised kids, thrown over the top birthday parties and hosted Christmases for 20 plus guests. The design functionality resume that comes from surviving apple juice stains, teen spirit and experiences that leave a mark.

I would love to tell you that I responded with the joy and support of a loving wife, when L suggested that we sell the big house and move to the island. Nope. But, after two very large Manhattans and one very good ugly cry, I was on board. “I dwell in possibility…”, I would channel Emily Dickinson:

“I dwell in Possibility
A fairer House than Prose–
More numerous of Windows–
Superior–for Doors—”

So, when L pitched his next business proposition to me, I was ready for the possibility:
“How fun would it be to buy a bar on Martha’s Vineyard?”

Are you there, Emily? It’s me, Jackie.

“I taste a liquor never brewed –
From Tankards scooped in Pearl –
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!”

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration of my enthusiasm. But, honestly, I did like the idea. It had possibilities.

A business that is open 7 days a week, 13 hours a day is quite a challenge. Now add alcohol. A bar that serves the fine folks of a small island, 7 days a week, 13 hours a day is a Coen brother screenplay waiting for the green light.

So, yes, we bought the “The Ritz”, a bar that has been in business since 1944 and is not even ironically “ritzy”. It is the bar the locals call “their” bar. The bar where, truly, everybody knows your name. We are upholding the tradition of providing live music, year round. We have a small kitchen with great bar food and we are incorporating community theme parties and events to provide entertainment for a small population over a long winter. Come this summer, over 100,000 tourists will take over and we will be ready.

How’s that for going outside the comfort box? Nailed it!

The island that was always our getaway, our place to regroup and relax has become our business, our livelihood, our work. A full partnership, L and I put in the crazy hours it takes to keep our employees organized and happy, our customers happy and satisfied, and our marriage satisfied and sane.

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The Ritz after Blizzard #1, January 2015- photo: Erik Albert, Oak Bluffs Inn 

We recently celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. The last year, hands down, was our most challenging, yet most exhilarating year ever.

Our days of a structured life are over. We run a bar. We stay out late, we hang out with amazing musicians and throw crazy parties. We’ve survived two blizzards, a winter for the record books and even got to celebrate the home team, my Pats, winning the Super Bowl.

We did it. We took a chance. We sold our house, we left our family, our friends and the remaining businesses in very capable hands. We set out to find the possibilities in us.

Just us, again. Like in the beginning. A couple.

A couple, falling in love all over again in the next chapter of our lives.

A couple that dwells in possibility.

A couple that really hates doing accounting together.

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New Year’s “Odd Ball” 2015 – photo: Tom Stevens Creative