Seventy-five letters. I'm sitting on the bench right now by the shop, listening to David and Luke on the grinders, on this hot and humid August morning in Georgia. The Mexican sunflowers are covered in Swallowtail butterflies,
Helen's zinnias are blooming like mad, and I have some lovely round purple eggplant waiting to be picked and made into baba ganoush after I finish this letter.
With seventy-five newsletters behind me, I'm thinking about the circuitous path that led me to write to you all, monthly, for such a long time now. Do y'all know what I was doing before I was here? Have I told you that story?
Fourteen years ago (which is insane), I moved to Athens, Georgia to start my Masters degree in English at the University of Georgia. I didn't know why. I was one of those, 'BUT I JUST LOVE TO READ' English grad students who weren't sure how in the world they were ever going to be paid for doing anything - were they going to teach high school? read in a hole somewhere? be a college professor? They don't know. I didn't know. What does one do with a BA in English? (So many things, I realize now, but at the time high school teacher felt like my only option, and not ready to dive into the classroom (which I would do later), I applied to grad school, got in, and moved out on my own for the first time. For the next decade I did the following:
finished a Masters degree; worked on an organic vegetable farm for a year, got into UGA's PhD program; taught freshman composition and completed four years of a PhD in English lit; got married to David Van Wyk; realized that competing with thousands of desperate PhD grads for the three English professor jobs in the United States was not something I wanted to do; watched as a hobby of my husband's turned into a very exciting full time job working with his hands at a craft that he loved; quit my PhD after four years of work with the rosy designation of ABD (all but dissertation - yes, I got that far and quit);
[take a deep breath]
taught high school English for two years; watched as Morgan Spurlock came to our house to make a documentary on the "maker's movement" that included Luke and David's work;
watched as David and Luke got buried in work and attention, and quit teaching so I could help them dig out and make Bloodroot something that sustained all of us. And, best of all, realized over the next four years, from 2015 to today, that I love taking care of customers, making sure y'all get what you need as best I can, getting to know some of you, and showing off the beautiful work we do here.
What a list. Why did I just make that list? I think because just yesterday I was talking to a couple of much younger friends - 22-23, just graduating college, getting their first jobs, and trying to figure out what they want to do. And they feel so much pressure to make the "RIGHT DECISION" - the decision that will guarantee that their life trajectory will be successful, bring joy, comfort, and fulfillment, not take them down the path into the slough of despond. They feel like their future happiness all hinges on this. one. decision. They know, cognitively, that it doesn't, but it so feels like they have to get this first step right. If they falter now, and things go all woppy-jawed, it will be so hard to recover, right?? Which, I thought that too, when I had graduated from King College in Briston, TN with a degree in English and no concrete life path well over a decade ago. Almost two decades ago, really. And look. Nothing at all when I was twenty-two indicated that I would be writing letters to all of you on an August morning while looking out over a lovely garden and listening to two of my best friends talk about the knives they are making for you all. You just can't predict how things will go.
So, if you want to walk down memory lane with me, because I have been doing somersaults down it this morning, with the cicadas scream-chirping in the background, take a look at the documentary that signaled the beginning of my quitting teaching and coming to work here: if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free, all twenty-four memory-lane minutes of it: Morgan Spurlock's Crafted.
Now, as the Mexican sunflowers wave with happiness beneath their butterfly visitors (too much?), I'm going to get out of this hot morning and get to work.
With gratitude to you all and with gratitude for the fact that we don't have to have it all figured out when we are young,
Katy for Bloodroot
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