I work in an antiques mall in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.
That work is quite a departure from some of my previous work as a small-town newspaper reporter; and later as a freelance writer and online merchant, working from the anonymity of my home.
But, alas, even though at my core I am shy, I have found the work gives me the opportunity to experience what makes me tick. You see, I am all about the story. The story of people's lives. What makes THEM tick. How they think. Feel. Live. Love.
And oddly enough, being in an antiques mall, gives me the privilege of hearing how people feel about politics, antiques, memories, family and life in general.
I've likened the experience to what it must have felt like, sitting around an old pickle barrel in a general store, playing checkers and catching up on real life.
The other day someone came into the store and yelled,"Have you seen Jane Fonda?"
No. I had not.
But in a way I HAVE seen her.
For those who don't know, much of the filming for the Netflix movie, based on the book, Our Souls At Night, is being shot in Florence.
For weeks, I saw the books, that one of the mall's vendors brought in for sale, fly off the shelves. Our Souls At Night, by Colorado native, the late Kent Haruf, sold so quickly, I got no chance to purchase a copy. There seemed to be more interest in the Jane Fonda-related books for sale. Not that people don't love Robert Redford though.
People came in the store and attempted to start lively discussions about Fonda's past, which as I've mentioned was slightly before my time, as I was young during the Vietnam-war era.
I basically ignored that controversy, while remaining empathetic to those with strong feelings.
Then I started getting glimpses of Jane Fonda, not in person, but by the people who are working on the movie. Or knew the author of Our Souls At Night, or who know the widow of the author.
Many of the antique shop workers and store owners, got to know many of the people working on the movie on a first name basis. And many of the movie people got to know the workers and owners by name and character. Long story, short: We were all having a great time helping them find antiques and collectibles and "props" for the movie. Some of the items were being purchased and some rented. And the movie pros seemed to be having a good time, because frankly, we have some pretty colorful characters and fun people in the antiques trade here in Florence.
The level of professionalism was high. And the level of gratitude on both ends, high.
I got to talking to one movie professional about how finding these "set"items was not just a job, but a sense of satisfaction.
Though it was not spoken in direct words, I understood that these people working around the stars are trying to tell a story. An important story. And even an inanimate object has to be chosen with care, thought and feeling.
I had no idea how much went into the behind-the-scenes work.
I started to learn the difference between the "set" people and "prop" people. I watched the carpenters and electricians and their body language. This is more than a job to them. They are telling a story. The word, satisfaction, kept coming up, not only from one movie pros lips, but even through body language of other movie pros I saw working from a distance.
Yesterday a movie pro came into the shop for items for the movie. By some "miracle" I was able to find the items within minutes, that were the right size and fit into the story. I won't say what the items were, but it was odd, because one of the items (unknown to me and the movie professional) until it reached checkout, was that the item was marked, HOLT.
Neither of us knew there was even a Holt pottery company. That won't show in the movie. But it was an odd sign--because Holt is the name of the fictional Colorado town, noted in the movie and book.
I commented to the movie pro, that I was impressed with all my dealings with the movie pros. Sweet and professional, were the words I used.
I was told that it started at the top and who the stars hired and wanted to surround themselves with. Basically the stars were sweet and caring people with loyalty and integrity.
We got to talking about some of the projects the movie pro had worked on over the years. Many of them ones I had seen and enjoyed over the decades.
It was a slightly emotional conversation, because I was mentioning items and story lines in one current production that had touched me--made me laugh or cry or experience strong emotions.
And the movie pro, well that was the whole point, with the work and the satisfaction behind the work. Behind-the-scenes, each item is chosen with such care and excruciating detail to evoke emotions and get feedback.
And it all starts at the top.
We had a great conversation--me being allowed to see what makes stories and people tick, for just a brief moment. I'll never look at movies, TV or even the stars like Jane Fonda and Robert Redford the same.
In this conversation, which was genuine, heartfelt and spontaneous on both sides--I was asked to NOT get online and say anything about the star, even though it was ALL wonderful and almost brought me to tears.
The movie pro did NOT know I live for seeing what makes people tick and the STORY. I told the person, I did have a blog, but would not reveal anything with personal details. The person had NO clue I had a blog. the person just saw another person who got intrigued, not by the stars, but by the story and satisfaction of contributing to the story of all of our lives.
So, I have included NO personal details of our conversation or anything specific about the people at the top.
So, no I have NOT seen Jane Fonda. But in a way, I have seen her, because I've seen the people around her that don't consider their jobs, just jobs, but something more to do with the soul, the human experience and telling the story.
Today I was driving downtown Florence (on my way to the book club) and saw filming was going on. Many people were on the streets, apparently hoping to get a glimpse of the stars. I was on my way to a book club meeting, where the attendees, of course, noticed the slight traffic snarl and onlookers.
Oddly enough, most of the "bookies" were more interested in the STORY of, Our Souls At Night, and not so much the fanfare, even though we couldn't help but be intrigued.
On my way back from the meeting, I had a chance to pull over and possibly catch a glimpse of the filming and stars. I chose to come home instead.
I've already had a glimpse into the soul of the story and how seriously everyone takes telling that story. I've gotten a glimpse, that most "stars" become stars because of their commitments to the story and making sure they are surrounded by people with the same commitment. Through several conversations over several weeks time with movie pros, the picture (pun intended) became clear. People like Jane Fonda and Robert Redford don't have relevant careers that last decades and make an indelible mark on audiences without a commitment to the story that boggles the mind without finding people that share the same vision.
Yes, in a way, Florence, had become a bit of a microcosm to observe the movie pros, with almost a whole town watching and interacting. And it's all been good. And it's all been a learning experience. And it's been a look into the literal soul of telling the story.
And that is good enough for me. Because I do believe I got a glimpse of the stars and experienced more than if I would have just "seen" them.