Jun 22, 2006

Texan moves to Midwest

A question I am asked all the time is why in the world did I move
from San Antonio to St. Louis? Well, for a lot of reasons that I am
going to explain. First, let me give a little background. I have lived in many places to include Europe, East Coast, South Dakota, Texas and stints in Alabama
and Florida. I am originally from Austin, Texas where my extended family currently resides. My ex and I moved to San Antonio in 1996 due to military orders. Yes, I was an Air Force Officer once upon a time....a story that I will save for later. Having not lived in Texas for almost 14 years, it took some getting use to the horrible heat, bugs and driving distances. And did I mention bugs? I hate bugs.

After I got out of the military (my last assignment was writing and producing training and education videos), I got a job working as an entertainment producer for Sea World San Antonio. I have a background in theater and television as well as writing. I wrote and produced shows, did some set design, wrote children's' summer programs, and yes, I even wrote the opening act for the Sea Lion Show - Sea Lions have such big egos...

Once the "glamour" of writing for Sea Lions wore off and my job became much more managerial and corporate and the creative side of my job became less and less it was time for me to move on. I got a job with an interior design firm where I worked as a designer who did a lot of shopping, buying and installing furniture and accessories for clients. At that time, I started a few small antique booths in local antique malls to fulfill my passion for antiques, painting furniture and designing bedding. My booths began to have a life of their own and my creative work became more in demand.

In 2001, I finally got pregnant - something my ex and I "worked" on for over a year. I was pregnant with twins and so very happy. I decided to leave the design firm and go out on my own and thus, created, my company, Elizabeth House. I didn't have a store in San Antonio, but my booths and private clients kept me busy. Then the September from hell approached. I quit the design firm the last week of August 2001 and a week later I lost my twins and had a D & C on September 5, 2001. I was 12 weeks along. Then of course, the following week was the horrible 9/11. Then a week later our beloved English Bulldog, Winston of 11 years died in his sleep. And the final week of September we had to be out of our home, which sold before we could buy one, so we had to move into a rental while we continued to house hunt. It was a tough, tough month. Then two months later, my ex gets laid off along with the rest of America due to the aftermath of 9/11.

So there we were with no jobs, no home, no babies and not even our dog. We were sick of Texas and just too heart broken to think straight. One day, while painting furniture in my living room for a client (my garage was filled with wet furniture) I was listening to Oprah Winfrey. At that time, she still had Dr. Phil on as a regular. I don't even remember the topic but Dr. Phil said: "If you keep on doing what you are doing, you will just keep on getting what you are getting." In other words, to get drastic change, calls for drastic action. So that evening when my ex came home from yet another inteview, I told him what Dr. Phil had said and right then and there we decided to leave Texas.

That very evening we opened up the United States atlas and looked for our new home. We lived on the East coast - been there and done that. The West coast was too expensive and we lived South - so what about the Midwest?? Saint Louis looked good on the map. It was central, had four seasons, and we liked the name - yup, that was our highly researched-educated-well-thought-out reasoning. It had been a tough year and we were just too pooped to really think it all out. But we did some research on the internet and got in our car a few days later and drove here to St. Louis to check it out. That was May 2002. We liked what we saw and decided that this would be our new home. My ex tried to drum up interviews and we made one more trip to St. Louis to try to figure out what to do. We knew no one and had no idea about the city. All I knew was....I fell in love with Forest Park and wanted to be one of those joggers that I saw running along the path....I knew I could be some day. (And I am.)

Then in July 2002, still no job offer in St. Louis, and still trying to find a way to make our move happen, my brother called and said he had to get rid of some flying miles or he would lose them. I talked him into taking me to Europe and I would act as his tour guide if he paid for it all. I really needed a break - my stress was out of control. While in Europe, my ex called and said he got a job in St. Louis, but had to leave right away. Then he called a few days later to tell me that he arrived in St. Louis safely and that he rented me a store! Now, we had talked about having a store some day, but it was only a dream, just talking really. But he went and leased a store that I never even been inside of. I was panic-stricken and excited at the same time. I never even worked in a store before and I had no idea where to start.

I packed up the house items and my inventory from my booths and drove the largest truck one can drive without a commercial license and pulled a trailer behind it. I drove from San Antonio to St. Louis all by myself and arrived in St. Louis on September 5, 2002. Exactly one year to the day that I lost my twins. So much had happened in only 12 short months. We unpacked our items and I turned around, drove the truck back to Texas and packed it again and did it all over again. I arrived in St. Louis on October 2, 2002. This was our third move in less than 12 months. I took four weeks to get the store up and going all by myself. I never even unpacked our household goods - no time -as I was working 20-hour days as it was. One evening, I was painting in the store, so very, very exhausted and so very worried about everything that I just broke down and cried and cried. What in the hell was I doing? I cried on the floor and my ex was putting something together and I told him "I don't even know how to run a credit card machine...I don't even own a credit card machine! What am I doing?" He just calmly told me that God doesn't set people up to fail...that if we do what He has planned for us, then failure is not an option....and then he told me that I was meant to do this. A weight was lifted, I stopped crying, and continued to paint and pray.

And on November 4, 2002, Elizabeth House was in business.

It was only two months later that the apartment above the store came available, so we rented that and moved yet a 4th time in less than 14 months. And at that time, the editors of Mary Englebriet's Home Companion Magazine became interested in photographing my apartment for their magazine. But that will be another story for another time. Now you know how I got to St. Louis. And I also want you to know how much I love this city, how great the people are and how I feel so at home in my community. I am truly blessed in so many ways.

from my house to your house,
Elizabeth
www.elizabethhouse.us

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2 comments:

corinne said...

thank you. i will go and pray and paint now too. i have just stumbled on your blog. you feel like an old friend.

A Lovely Thing said...

Just so you know, you have readers on these old posts :)

I found you through Deb at Curious Sofa. I've read every word of her shopowner blog ... and now delving through yours. Thanks so much for these words of experience.

This post struck a cord with me -- I have less than 2 months of living expenses left, and am actively seeking to open an antique mall of MY OWN.

Lucky you to have had a supportive ex back then. My husband isn't really. I think I scare him -- LOL. He thinks I'm crazy, which I probably am.

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