November 30, 2012
Kensington is a quaint little area of Calgary, close to where we currently live and is one of the first places I came back to after arriving from NYC in 2006. Only one week had passed since my three day drive back from the East Coast with a puppy and a rental SUV, filled from floor rugs to roof rack with my remaining belongings, a fresh start and heart ruled by uncertainty. Star gazing at 29 and returning home after 11 years, the road to rediscovery was a long one and I was determined to make it back in one whole piece. I was going step by step, stone by stone at this point. There was only one question lingering: What to do once I arrived?
Seeing my family and spending some quality time with them was the first thing on my list, looking at my old life through new eyes you could say.
I had been back in town for a week when my sister in law Amy and I decided to head into Kensington. It seemed like lifetimes had passed since I was there last but the memories were still so clear in my mind. Galavanting around the streets with my friends after school, between classes and at times in replacement of classes. Young wild hearts, laughing loudly, arm in arm, proudly showcasing short exhilarating bursts of running through the streets.
It was Spring 2006, the first week of May if I remember correctly. I was eager to get started on my reintroduction to the city. We parked and began our walk down 10th. The first stop was a sweet little shop called Box Paper Scissors that I couldn’t resist peering into from the street. It was love at first sight – and smell. I didn’t remember this shop from back in the day and since I was an absolute paper addict, I was thrilled.
This place was new, not just to me, but like me – new to the area. I could still catch the undertone of fresh paint lingering in the air. Covered up equally by a fresh coat of time and a thick pulpy smell of fresh cut paper, only adding additional, delicious layers to the mix. I was in heaven. Gorgeous hardwood floors and shelves cradled endless stacks of candy-coloured and colour-coded decorative paper in addition to other fun surprises.
We were greeted so kindly by the owners Anna and Dave Chow. Anna, with her eager shuffle towards us and Dave sweeping proudly in the distance. As we walked over towards the paper wall I recall whispering to Amy, after managing my jaw from the floor, that I would love to do work in a place like this. For me, more personal than business was exactly the kind of environment I was ready for.
By the time I left that day, the old Kensington flame was burning once again.
It was the following Sunday that Anna that I sat down for the first time. She was quickly inquisitive and ever so candid. There was a kind of meat and potatoes vibe I had been yearning for, not your average ordinary job interview. Her hot caramel macchiato, a chocolatey puff pastry, big curious eyes and a warm tell all smile beaming from her face was immediately appealing. She was just as excited as I was. It was easy to feed off of her energy and I believe still to this day that our meeting was a rather serendipitous one. The galavanting, the laughing and the short bursts of giddy energy were alive once again. It seemed Kensington had adopted another set of wild hearted school girls.
I fell into a position at Box Paper Scissors like flour into hot butter and Anna and Dave into my life just the same. The recipe was irresistible and rich in flavour. I knew if I was going to give my all to anything again, that this time I would want my hands to directly effect and connect with the people and place I was working in. I was granted this access thoroughly and I took it in for all it was. I treated the shop like it was my own, pouring my heart and soul right into the pot.
They say you spend the majority of your time with the people you work with and in the environment you do your work. After my long stint in a large corporate setting where you don’t necessarily always feel like a part of the bigger picture or as connected to the essence of the business as you do in a smaller mom and pop shop, I knew there would be no going back.
Its been six years since our meeting that Sunday. Working side by side with Anna and Dave has been like working with family and I have them to thank for helping me create a sense of “home” in my old hometown. With me, they have shared their business, their friendship, their home and more importantly their precious time. It is with them now that I come full circle. A meaningful beginning and ending to another lovely story and I will cherish it always.
It was three weeks to Christmas 2011 that Anna and Dave would have to bare the burden of telling themselves, their staff, friends and family that it was time to close the shop doors. What a brave decision to have to make. To imagine that their life could be different, finding the courage to face the changes ahead and allowing the shop as we have known it for the past six years to go through its own set of transformations, is both scary and commendable.
After a two year lull in the economy filled with tough times for business owners in Calgary and in the world as a whole, many have been forced to make the same or similar changes in their life since.
My work at Box Paper Scissors was worth every moment and every ounce of effort that my busy little hands could muster. Our time was palpable. A multi-layer cake filled with tremendous challenges, many well earned successes, lovely faces, changing spaces, lots of cold days sipping hot coffee with Baileys and warm, wonderful, unforgettable graces.
On January 1st, 2012, we are left star gazing once again, going step by step, stone by stone. It is with bittersweet tears in my eyes and a heart full of lasting memories I continue my journey onward, marking the first wave of goodbyes. First to the little creative shop and its owner’s who have opened their hearts to me and soon to a city that has always given back as much as it has taken, for these things I am so grateful.
Thank you Anna and Dave for just being who you are, for your tremendously huge hearts, caring souls and joyful smiles. To all of the staff that have lovingly come and gone over the past six years. To my husband Issa for walking in that front door and to our loyal customers for all of your support. Remember how well we laughed through the years and how honestly we cried as we said farewell.