October 17, 2011 FacebookTwitter More...

Island Living: Getting back to normal – whatever that is


Has anyone else noticed that with each business that reopens, we’re all super excited and all feel a little closer to normal, even if we have no intention of going there? Or in being “normal,” for that matter?

Here’s a good example.

My fiancÚ, who is a trained butcher and runs a seafood market, is opening this week, and the moment  I heard the news I let out a big old sigh and, objectively,  was grateful that there was going to be another Hatteras Island fishmonger employed.

Now, subjectively, I am quite tired of having a bored guy around the house who likes to move furniture and “reorganize” to the point that I need a GPS for the home since I have no idea where anything is located anymore.

But, overall, I was just delighted that one more local could go back to work, doing his butchering or fishmongering thing, and yet another business was opening its doors.

And I’m a vegetarian.

(Which reminds me, if anyone is lacking a great idea for a sitcom, I have a phenomenal concept centered around a butcher and his incredibly picky veggie lady friend who is grossed out by fish carcasses. But I digress.)

Honestly, my enthusiasm for this turn of events was not in fact based on the fact that for a few weeks he had the option to lounge on the couch and watch “The Price Is Right” while I still had to work. (And to be fair, he would rather be fishmongering, especially since Bob Barker retired.)

I was just happy that his seafood market was going to be open, and I could cross another “closed for potentially the whole season” business off my list.

Let’s be honest. The local business community is the heartbeat of our entire island.

If all the local stores, restaurants, bars, bakeries, and all our social lifelines are closed, then we know something is up. If they are all closed at the exact same time, like, let’s say, a day before a storm, then we all know something catastrophic is afoot.

And as every new restaurant starts serving grub, every store starts peddling souvenirs, and every fishmonger starts mongering fishes, then we can relax with that faint feeling that the worst is behind us, perseverance conquers all, and getting back to normal -- whatever that is -- is within our reach.

Let’s face it. It’s unnerving and quite depressing that so many of our favorite local haunts have had to close their doors for the season. Some of them made the best of a bad situation and had post-Irene clearances to salvage a bit of their annual income, and at least sell the rest of their intact merchandise. But the fact that these “Closing-For-Indefinitely-Sales” had to occur at all is a pretty scary thing.

I would much rather see my neighbors able to open their doors in a few weeks, or even in a few months, and get back on their feet, than save a few bucks at a going-out-of-business sale.

Now in the interest of “truth in journalism” -- or however, that goes--  I feel I should answer the question of whether or not I took advantage of some of these closing sales. And, yeah, I did.

In fact, I went to the sidewalk sale at Bella’s Boutique, one of my favorite local places for terribly cool and professional looking duds, three times in a single day. The third time, slightly embarrassed, I changed my shirt to be more inconspicuous. It didn’t work. Looking back, I shouldn’t have chosen a bright yellow polo as a disguise.

But, in my defense, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything fantastic.  This could be my last chance to shop at one of my favorite Avon stores, and I was taking a final opportunity to stock up and enjoy it while I could.

This is a great example why every business reopening is so darn important – Bella’s will be hopefully doing online sales, but the local store site itself, which got a good foot of water inside the building, is now closed.

And this “Will they or won’t they make it?” question is hovering over every single business on the island, especially in the tri-villages where access was restored only last week. So, in essence, there is a universal sigh of relief for all our neighbors and friends who do have the ability to clean up and start over. 

After all, we all know each other, so with every new neon “OPEN” sign, there is a chorus of “You’re open! So glad you did okay during the storm.”

So, welcome, newly reopened businesses of Hatteras Island! We welcome you back with open arms, and are so very glad to see you, and are terribly grateful you’re helping us get back to our weird little version of normal.

And while, personally, I might not pony up for a steak or fish dinner, I’ll be more than happy to swing by your establishment for a drink and an order of cheese sticks in your honor.

By opening up your doors, and letting visitors and locals walk in and spend money, you’re slowly but steadily making the memory of Hurricane Irene walk out.

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