Karen has never been particularly shy or insecure but she isn’t so sure she would have dared to do then what she does now – quit her job and go all in when she’s offered to buy a small shop in River’s Bend. It’s an old building with a low rent and located right in the middle of their street which makes all the difference to her.
Because with just one kid living at home Karen had found no reason to keep her large house and had sold it, non-dramatically a few months ago. Their new place is smaller and suits them much better and now, of course, it’s beyond perfect what with the shop being within walking distance.
She’s (ironically) named it Bake-Off, intending to sell baked goods and sweets and she keeps the original walls and floors, deciding that it gives the place a nice little touch of the good old days. Besides, it saves her the trouble of renovating it.
And she doesn’t think she is, either, but it still feels odd to be doing this again. Her previous attempts didn’t succeed but the circumstances were different back then, she was different.
She’s really nervous during her opening – which takes place at night, just to be sure enough people are home from work and willing to do some shopping. It’s been a long time since she ran a business of her own and she’s afraid she’s lost both her passion and her talent for it.
This time around she may lack the stamina of her 30-something self but what she lacks in young age she makes up for in experience and reputation. People know her. Sure, not everyone knows her in a good way – to some she’s still that irresponsible woman who got herself knocked up by a college kid – but they know her all the same. Never underestimate the power of idiots, either, she thinks to herself as she spots a few gossip mongers in the line-up for her shop.
What does she care what they think of her? If they visit her bakery to get a good look at the non-conformist suburban mom and end up buying a cake, then that’s her gain.
The only downside of running her own business again is the long working hours. She wants to do everything herself for the time being, wanting to force herself back into the whole mindset rather than letting someone help her out. Later, she decides. Later, when she makes money and can afford the luxury of assistance.
Albin says it’s really no problem if she gets home late, either and Karen tells herself that if things keep going at this rate, she will be able to set up a savings account for him in no time. She was never able to do this for her older sons and even if they’ve both managed just fine without it, she would like to feel that she can help out now, that they have the opportunity to ask her for financial aid if they want to.
At the moment, however, Albin doesn’t give his future much thought. He’s very much living in the now and is much more socially skilled than Karen remembers his brothers being at his age. Most teenagers appear slightly off somehow, very clumsy and awkward at times, but Albin is still managing just fine.
Karen is fairly convinced that he’s in love with Rebecca Siew, though she hasn’t been seeing anything but friendly interaction between them so far and doesn’t really expect something else to happen for a while yet, either.
Not that she’s going to make a big deal of it. It seems Rebecca’s parents are easy-going, as well, letting her stay with Karen and Albin at least twice a week.
They’ve always been friends and Karen has sensed that Rebecca might drag Albin into the occasional spot of trouble in school, but while she’s a bit of a hurricane, there’s nothing malicious about her at all. She’s a bright, energetic girl.
Eamon has some girl troubles, these days. He doesn’t discuss them very explicitly with Karen, but she can piece together a pretty full picture from what he says – he wanted to be young and free and ended up with a roomie-with-benefits. Said roomie also seems to have feelings for him and Karen would find it amusing if Eamon didn’t seem so depressed about the arrangement.
“You can’t live with your friends with benefits,” she tells him, wondering if that’s a completely absurd thing for a mother to tell her son. It probably is. Then again, she’ll never win the Mother of the Year award. “It goes against the whole purpose.”
“You started it.”
“I just want to date. How hard can that be?”
Karen finally decides that she doesn’t want to hear him whining about his romantic life any more without doing anything about it, so she invites him over to meet the daughter of an old friend – Phoebe McAuley.
Phoebe is clever and ambitious and just the sort of mix between easy-going and serious that Karen suspects Eamon is after, even if he might not know it himself yet. They seem to get along very well, too, talking all afternoon about music and the city.
* Albin and Rebecca Siew are adorable together, but they’re still just friends. They’re always competing, though, which amuses me.