10 April 2012
My Relationship with The Crate and Barrel Outlet
If I go to the Crate and Barrel Outlet in Maine and the cashier handling my purchases looks at the lime green pouf I'm buying and says
"I don't think this matches the other greens in your house........."
.........does that mean I go the Crate and Barrel Outlet too much? Hmmm.
I've clearly formed a relationship with these people. And they apparently have my back; they really care about my family room. How great is that? So I put the lime green pouf back on the shelf.
On my very first visit to the CBO, after moving into my big, empty house, I met Susan. Susan sniffed me out immediately. There was something about her face that stood out from the rest of the employees; her expression was more relaxed, almost smiling but not quite. Just softer. Not as irritated.
"Where are your from?" she asked. So there was something different about me, too.
"I'm from Minnesota. I just moved here."
"I knew it!" she said. "I'm from Bemidji!"
We always find each other, don't we? Susan is so nice and so excited to meet me, as Minnesotans are always excited to meet each other. When I lived in the suburbs of Chicago, I would run into other Chicagoland people around the world and they were never very interested to meet me. Which always made me feel foolish in the bathroom of the Scottsdale Cheesecake Factory or wherever it was that I ran into my zip code-mate. ( "I'm sorry, I just overhead you say that you're from Glen Ellyn? I live in Wheaton! We live just minutes away from each other! Hey! Where are you going?" )
Right away, Susan gets a concerned look on her face and says, "How's it going?" As a fellow transplant, she must have been through this before. And here she is today living a perfectly happy life at the CBO. "Don't worry," she says. "It's going to get better." She says this even though I give my standard diplomatic reply, saying how I'm really looking forward to getting to know New England. I never say that it's going badly. That would be rude. And whiny.
"You're going to like it. Eventually. It takes some getting used to but then you'll like it. Except the Massholes. You never get used to them." (Her words! Not mine! I swear!)
Since that time, the CBO has been an important piece of my transition into this new place. When we moved into our big, formal, colonial style house, all the furniture from our smallish Minneapolis semi-bungalow looked ridiculous. Like the house was mocking us. Filling this house with furniture it approved of was tough. And we duked it out, the house and I, several times...........trying to find a style we could both agree upon. And the CBO was like our mediator.
I could go to the CBO feeling low - what had I gotten myself into? And the CBO would say "Try this. It's clean and it's modern but the natural wood gives it a traditional vibe. And the scale is perfect for your big house."
So I'd go home with my new dining table or sofa or end table, all dirt cheap, and the house and I would be friends again.
"See? It's gonna be ok. Little by little. Piece by piece. It just takes time," seemed to be the CBO's message.
I've taken friends to the CBO and they're always impressed when I'm greeted with a little extra familiarity than the rest. How much furniture can one person buy? Well..........a lot, actually. And it helps if you're from Minnesota so that all the transplanted employees have someone to talk to. The other day, it was Chad. Susan sees us chatting and shouts out "He's from the Midwest, too!" We have a little party for a minute. "Ooh! Where? That's so great!" And then he digs in extra hard to find a suitable end table for me, even searching databases of stores around the country, because he just can't let me go home with the one I have in my hand. We can do better than that, girlfriend!
And now, the CBO factors into my transition again as I stage my house for the people who will come through its doors, fall madly in love with it, and then want to buy it so that we can move once again. Making it look perfect. Making it look like a home. A home for someone else but still a home; a place that shelters us and our children and our dogs and makes us feel snug and secure and protected and well-fed.
Thank you CBO. Thanks to you and Susan and Chad and the cashier who was worried about my lime green pouf not matching the other greens in my house. I feel like we've created something really important here. Let's all cross our fingers and wish together for a quick sale.