In an hour I am starting my last shift at Shakti.
When I was 19 I moved to Wisconsin. It was a hard time period for me. I'd just left Connecticut. I didn't have one single friend (aside from my two sisters and my mom) and I was pretty freaked out about leaving UCONN and my hometown for some place I'd only visited a handful of times.
But, I remember the first time I walked down State Street, resume and references in hand trying to find a job. Any job, honestly. At the time I was living at with my mom. I didn't feel too picky. And I remember walking into Shakti and thinking that it was the COOLEST store I'd ever seen. In high school, in my World Civilizations class, I remember being introduced to the Hindu gods and for whatever reason, really felt a connection to those stories. I sculpted a statue of Ganesh for that class too. I'd named my cat, Kaumari, after a Hindu goddess. My significant other in high school was also into taoism, so I happened to know a lot about that too. I think these were things that I wrote on the back of my application to Shakti. Just that I felt a connection to Hinduism. And knew about a handful of other eastern religions. They were the only store on State St to call me back and luckily for me, I turned in my application a few days before Maxwell St and they just happened to really need someone.
I've been working at Shakti ever since. I remember my first shift. I helped Allie put up those glass balls in the window. I remember that it was kinda rainy out and my throat was hurting a bit because of all the incense. I remember Nick behind the counter. I've taken breaks from Shakti here and there. A year off or so, usually returning to just work during December (one of the busiest months) and Maxwell St. But I always came back. When I was hard up and needed a little extra income the manager, Sara, gladly put me on the schedule for a few shifts here and there. I could depend on Shakti.
The people who work at Shakti are the nicest people you will ever meet. I mean this literally. You will not find any other humans in Madison who are as intelligent and sweet as them. Over the years you learn about your coworkers, but I think that we can safely say that we all became each others best friends. We loved the place we worked (you know, most of the time) but we really loved each other. I am going to miss getting to know new people and miss spending time with best friends.
I am really fucking sad its closing. I think it really says something about a place where its retail and all the employees have been there for years and years. I'm really grateful for all the memories I have there. All the weirdo customers, all the interesting customers, all the cool knowledge about the earth and the universe, all those amazing conversations with my coworkers, and all the time I spent feeling like I could be myself. Just in some funny little new age bookstore.