Over the this last weekend I went home to my parents house in C’ville, On Saturday I went to town with my mom when she was going shopping. Along the way we decide to stop at Greenberry’s Coffee shop to feed my caffeine addiction. While I was waiting in line to order my coffee an old friend of mine walked in. I know D– through the Fish Store. He was somewhere between a customer and an employee. (Long story short: D– used to own a pet shop and while the shop had closed years ago he still took care of several very large and expensive fish tanks for some wealthy clients so he would come in to the store to order things and since he was a good friend we just let him order right off the list, we did not charge him anything extra—just wholesale.)
While I was talking to D–, I mentioned that I had not seen the other guys from the Fish Store for a while. I only get home to C’ville once in a while and when I do they either are not at the store or have plans for the weekend so we don’t get to hang out, just chat and say hello at the store. So I asked D– how J███ and J████ where doing. And somewhere along the way he stopped and said… J███ was in Richmond, signing a lease—he’s going to move the store to Richmond soon.
Hearing this kind of jarred me. The Fish Store is the last link to my former life in C’ville. J███, J████ and D– are the only people from that life I still see. Knowing that the store is going to close is like finally realizing that not only is that chapter in my life over but even the bookmarks have been moved.
The time I spent at the Fish Store was one of the most influential in my life. The store opened just after Teresa left me, taking Micheal and all that mattered to me away. I was not in a very good place. Over the next two years I changed and matured and became most of who I am today. Somewhere between cleaning fish tanks and selling fish I had time to look inside myself and change the things I did not like. The thing that made the most difference in my life was deciding to apply the ethics and teachings I had read in my studies. I became a vegetarian, I stopped worrying about the things I could not change, and changing the things I worried about. Most of the changes where a direct result of J███, who turned into one of the most influential people in my life, he is one of the most interesting, well rounded, intelligent, grounded, thoughtful persons I have ever met.
Even while I spent two years crucifying myself on my feelings for M—- as she tore my friendships apart and eventually drove me away from C’ville, J███, J████, D– and the whole Fish Store where my anchor. Without them and the things I learned, about life and about myself, I would not have had the strength and courage to walk away from M—- and to leave C’ville and get on with my life.
It will probably happen quietly and I won’t even know. One day when I am visiting my parents I will go to stop by the Fish Store and it will simply not be there, and I will walk away and never look back. That’s part of what I learned while I was cleaning those fish tanks — never to live in the past, life moves on.