Jill and I spend a late Sunday morning at The Bruncheonette, where we discuss spontaneity, change, and how I can’t keep my hands off of carrot fries.
Kimberly: Alright, here we go. I’m with Jill at The Bruncheonette. In Joplin, Missouri. We have been served Bloody Marys that I find spicy.
Jill: And I do not.
Kimberly: You find them…
Kimberly: There you go. We’re waiting on a table, we’ve ordered our food. And when we were walking here, I was asking you to kind of prepare memories…that you had about this place. And your answer was…
Jill: Well, the memory that came to mind was…(Waitress walks out and tells us our food and table are ready.) OK, thank you!
Kimberly: To be continued!
Kimberly: OK, I don’t know exactly what I did. We’ve finished brunch. We had…
Jill: Garden bennies.
Kimberly: Garden bennies. That was delicious.
Jill: Carrot fries.
Kimberly: And carrot fries. I ate the majority of the carrot fries. But we were talking about memories associated with this place, and when we were walking here, you were actually saying you don’t have a ton of memories from this place because it’s not necessarily your favorite of the local places to eat. Not…like, you like it, OK…
Kimberly: But there are other places…
Jill: I eat here because the person I’m with always picks it.
Kimberly [Laughing]: Exactly. Like today. I picked it.
Kimberly: But you did have one memory.
Jill: The one that stands out to me the most is of, I don’t know, a couple of months ago? Within the last three months, my husband and I were planning on driving to Tulsa, which is about an hour and a half away, to go the the Philbrook Museum. And we woke up in the morning and he said, “How about we go get brunch before we leave?” And I said, “That’s a great idea.” So we came here and we had brunch, and we rarely get to do anything like that because, there are just a handful of days a year were it’s just the two of us, without work or without our kids.
Kimberly: Right. So it was rare, like this act of spontaneity?
Jill: Yeah, it was great.
Kimberly: And you actually said when we were inside eating…it was too noisy to do the interview inside…so we’re back outside…but where we were sitting was where the two of you sat.
Jill [Laughing]: Yeah, the same exact spot where we sat that morning. And of course, it was busy, and I had a Bloody Mary, like I am today. [Laughing] And then we had a nice brunch and we drove to Tulsa.
Kimberly: Sounds like a great little day.
Jill: Yeah, and we actually didn’t know. Because we kept talking, we knew we had this day coming up, it was a Saturday where it would be just the two of us all day, no work, no kids. And we kept talking about, What should we do? Should we stay home, should we go somewhere? And we decided to just wait until it was closer to Saturday before we decide, so it was almost, like, pretty spontaneous about where we decided to go.
Kimberly: I find that I lean towards the spontaneous side. I don’t know if that sentence I just said was English. But…
Jill [Laughing]: You lean towards spontaneity.
Kimberly: I lean towards spontaneity. Thank you, Librarian Jill. [Laughing] Um, yeah, I like to be pleasantly surprised by a day rather than planning it out too far in advance and then being…
Kimberly: Disappointed. Exactly. OK, I have one last quick question for you, and you don’t have to give a quick answer, but we’ve both lived in Joplin for a very long time. Well, I mean, I haven’t lived in Joplin for the last ten years but we went to school here together and a lot has changed. Particularly since the tornado. And we don’t have to talk about the tornado, but could you talk about that change, maybe?
Jill: Yes…sometimes, you know when I was younger, I hated Joplin, I hated living here. And, you know, I did not go to high school here. I moved to Joplin when I was about nineteen. I left a couple times, but not for long. I came back. And it was small and I didn’t like it, but then I started to become involved in things. I started to become involved in the art scene here, and historic preservation, and just other things, and I started paying attention to…the opportunities around here. And now I’m very involved. So sometimes I don’t know if it’s that Joplin has changed that much, but that it’s that I’ve just changed and my perspective has just changed.
Kimberly: Ooh! I like that.
Jill: I mean, if you look at…if you look at our downtown area, just looking at how it looks now, compared to how it looked twenty years ago, ten years ago. Then, yeah, there’s been a lot of change.
Kimberly: Yeah, a lot of people…a lot of businesses and restaurants and bars and shops have moved into downtown.
Jill: Right, the Third Thursday…it started out as the Art Walk ten years ago. This was the tenth season. And the whole point was to do pop-up galleries in all the empty buildings on Main Street. And it was so successful now that the percentage of empty buildings now is very small.
Kimberly: Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.
Kimberly: Yeah, now when I want to do something, I go downtown. And as a kid, I never did.
Kimberly: As a kid, it was always, like Range Line…or the mall. And now we have places to brunch! Which is very new.
Jill: It is new. And there are even a couple of clothing stores downtown again that are, you know, small businesses. And there are art galleries everywhere. So, I mean, Joplin has changed but I’ve changed, too.
Kimberly: But I think you changed together. Like you said, you got into the art scene, but it’s also because you…I don’t want to say you created it, but it’s because you’ve been very active in these events, you help host events at Post Library, where you work, um, you’re involved in the literary scene here, and historic preservation, so….like, the two changes coincided. They happened….
Jill: They did.
Kimberly: …cote-à-cote. Sorry, the Bloody Mary’s getting to me.
Jill: And I wrote this…you know, I haven’t published…I mean, I do a ‘zine. And, I mean, it’s just random things, really. And I haven’t done it in a really long time. But the last one I did, I went on this rant about living in Joplin. But it was a pro-Joplin rant. The rant was really about people who live…it’s very common for people who live in big cities, who have always lived in big cities, to come to a place like Joplin and kind of look…like, I’ve literally had people say to me, “You’re wasting your life here.”
Kimberly: Oh my god!
Jill: “There’s nothing even here.”
Kimberly: Who are these assholes?
Jill: “You could be doing so much more in a place like Kansas City.” And no, I live here. And people will…it’s been my experience that people will look at people who live in small cities like Joplin and think that we all just live here because we’re stuck here.
Jill: When, no, it’s that we choose to live here, we choose to make community, we choose to make our place. That’s why we stay here.
Kimberly: Yeah! And that’s what also excites me when I come home. That I want to be a part of that now. [Crashing sound] Oh, somebody just bottomed out their car pulling into the parking lot, by the way. [Laughing] OK, we’ll end there. That’s…that’s good, we’ll end with the car.
Jill: I’ll give you, if you want, I can give you a copy of what I wrote.
Kimberly: I would love to see it.
Jill: I would love to read it. Because I like to read it out loud. I like to read the things I write out loud.
Kimberly: I want you to read it out loud to me. And…