I was born to be a gypsy, a vagabond, a wanderer. There is something about the road. It just seems to call out to me. It is not the destination that calls, but the journey itself. It is the back roads, the people I will meet, the things that I will see…the experience. So when a fellow blogger, a girl named Timi, invited me to drive over to the west side of our fair state to participate in a “meet the blogger” night in Snohomish, of course I said yes. In true Rene’ fashion, I set out without a clue of what to expect. I love the thrill of the unexpected! I knew none of the women who would be there, yet I was confident, based on Timi’s “zany” personality, that I would somehow fit in.
I had recently reconnected with a friend who lives in one of the nearby communities, and I decided to give her a call to see if we could meet up while I was there. I love those friendships where no matter how much time has passed, once you start to visit, it is almost as if no time has passed at all. We just picked up where we left off. Dori and I met as young moms living on the Palouse on the east side of Washington State. To any outsiders looking in, we were a bit like Felix and Oscar I am sure. Dori’s home was always fixed to the nines, while mine was more simple and plain (early yard sale, I used to say). She was usually in the latest fashion, while I thought it was a great day if my top matched my pants. Nevertheless, we are heart friends.
For possibly the first time that I can recall, each mile brought great anticipation, both for the visit with an old friend and the meeting of new ones. As I drove into Duvall looking for our meeting place, I thought that my heart would simply leap out of my chest. Dori had planned for us to meet at a darling little restaurant in the heart of Duval called The Grange. It was an old barn painted a buttery yellow and trimmed in white. The restaurant; perfectly decorated in shabby chic decor, and the menu was full of offerings prepared using locally grown produce. My eyes and my taste buds could not have been more pleased.
Our visit was simply perfect, and although she had changed, the changes were all positive. She seemed more settled, happier, and fulfilled. Yet at the core, she was still my dear, dear friend, and I was thrilled to have the time with her. Dori and her hubby had invited me to stay with them while I was in the area. I knew that our conversation would continue over the dinner Bill would cookfor us later, which made leaving for my meeting in Snohomish a little easier.
Snohomish is only a few miles down the road from Duvall. I am a little ashamed to admit that I had never been there until this event, and I was even more saddened when I realized all that I had been missing. This area of our state is vastly different from the part of the state where I make my home. Except for college and a couple of years on the west side for my husband’s job, I have lived in the east side of Washington State my whole life. I love it here. I love our wide-open spaces, our lack of traffic, and the simple rural life. Yet there is something so charming about this part of the west side for me. Maybe it is the seemingly endless trees and berry fields or the miles and miles of antique shops and u-picks that speckle the back roads.
As I pulled into Snohomish and made my way to Annie’s on First, my heart was full. Days like this will do that to me, sort of like that feeling you get from eating too much turkey during the holidays, where you could literally roll up into a ball and just “be.” I do not know what I loved more: Annie herself, or her amazing vintage home-furnishing store. To call them both elegant would somehow miss the mark. The words “elegant” and “sophisticated” seem too stuffy, although they were both, in the best sense of the words. I have searched my mind for the just the right word to describe Annie and her store, and I finally decided on “inviting.” Imagine looking through the yummiest magazine and landing on that page that shows a simply perfect scene where you long to be. That is how I felt about Annie’s.
If Annie’s were the only thing in Snohomish, it would be well worth the trip to get there. She and her store are endearing, unique in the sense that you feel welcomed. As I tried to recover from my overwhelming sense of awe, I went and introduced myself. Just as I suspected, I was greeted warmly and told that Timi (the event’s organizer) and crew (who had begun the party the day before) had not yet returned. Annie suggested that I take a few minutes to walk down Main Street and take in all the shops.
As I walked out her front door, I stood greeted by the most amazing view. The little downtown area is like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting…both quaint and colorful filling the eyes with cute and unique shops while the mind is trying to choose where to go first. If I had been feeling like I had just had a huge holiday dinner, then I had just discovered the dessert table. Where would I go first? I could write forever about every store in this town…not just about the stores’ contents, rather about the people, I chuckled to myself as I thought, there was not one store that did not make me feel as if I were Norm, and they were the “Cheers” bar.
As I was wandering through a store called Joyworks, I overheard a conversation between the storeowner and another shopper. The conversation led me to believe that as a blogger, I was supposed to come with a nametag all decorated up. Now, we Farmgirls know how to gussy up a nametag, but I (in all my excitement to hit the road) did not read that part of the email. So there I stood in the middle of Joyworks, not feeling so joyful, and, apparently it showed, since one of the gals looked over at me from behind the counter and asked, “Are you a blogger, too?” I acknowledged that I indeed was a blogger, but that I had failed to bring the coveted nametag. Without missing a beat, they swooped in and provided all the materials needed for the perfect marquee. As we fussed with the task, I learned that the two “nametag angels” were Jana, the owner of Joyworks, and Shelly, the owner of Bungalow Bling. Wow, they are two amazing women. Jana’s store carries stationery, clothing, jewelry and pillows. (Well, she is now minus two pillows…)
Her basement is full of beautiful dishes, antiques and home furnishings. Shelly makes beautiful cake toppers, party hats, and much, much more. Shelly’s great talent for all things bling is a perfect match to her fun and whimsical personality.
Leaving Joyworks, I continued to travel through the downtown stores, taking in additional antique stores, and a darling teashop. Then, like an alarm clock waking me out of the perfect sleep, my cell phone rang. It was Annie’s, letting me know that I had won a laundry cart in the raffle they were holding. Without hesitation, I headed back to collect my winnings and meet up with Timi and the girls. Upon my arrival, I learned that Lisa of A Thing for Roses had donated the laundry cart that I won. Each of the bloggers in attendance had been, invited to bring something to add to the drawing. Lucky for me, Lisa brought the laundry cart. I have to say, it was a coveted item, and I was glad to get out of there that night with it safely in tow. Since I have never won anything, this was the perfect highlight to my weekend.
My experience with the women I met that weekend was the perfect example of the idea that by building community, all of our lives are richer. I love spending time with others who simply understand that my living my dream does not empty the “cookie jar of dreams.” I believe that there is not a quota, that once met, takes away from another reaching her dreams. Rather, a synergy created when we celebrate the success of one another, and we each live our best life. That weekend I saw a town full of bloggers. Yet while we all carried the same title, we were all so very different. Each of us is unique, in a way that only we could be.