I could only hear one half of the conversation, and even that was a bit muddled, but it sounded like someone was calling the bookstore to order the last copy of Samantha Power’s “The Education of an Idealist.”
”I was here the day you got those books,” I said to the clerk, which I was, last September, because I was buying tickets for her book talk and signing.
He didn’t seem impressed.
If I’m not careful, the afternoons sneak up on me.
We usually have stuff to do in the mornings and plans for evenings and nights — even if it’s something we want to watch on TV — but if I’m not occupied in the afternoon, it’s easy to get lost in my own head, and that’s not a place I want to be. It’s the place where I wonder if things will ever get better.
Since the sojourns to inside the walls of my brain often coincide with being inside the walls of my house, Suzi suggested taking a ride to the local bookstore.
Sounded good to me.
I hadn’t been to a bookstore in months, and it seemed a little darker, the music even more sedate, but that may have been because there’s no need to turn all the lights on in the middle of the afternoon.
The selection has never been huge — after all, it’s a little independent store — but there seemed like there were a lot of paperbacks where hardcovers would be, a few empty shelves that wouldn’t normally be there and hardly any magazines.
There were only a handful of customers, and everyone was wearing masks. One woman came in with her mask either off or down, and a clerk politely asked her to put it up.
Which she did … without complaint … because, you know … decent human being.
I didn’t see anything I was especially interested in, which is fine, because I still have several books from my birthday in May to read, and for me, the trip wasn’t really about shopping, anyway.
So I was mostly just wandering around, but the travel section was like a gut punch.
Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia … it was like seeing a book called “Oh, the Places You’re Not Allowed To Go!”
Speaking of which, I get that JetBlue has a business to run, and it’s not like they’re the only ones who have done it, but even an email offering a BOGO sale isn’t going to get me on a plane right now, even the places that will actually let me in.
The center of town is supposed to be crowded on a summer afternoon. Finding parking is supposed to be harder than getting a spot right in front of the bookstore.
We weren’t quite ready to go home, and Suzi had a hankering for an iced coffee, so we walked around a little, by the pizza place where we used to get lunch once a week and the diner where we sometimes ate.
By the time we did decide to go, the conditions hadn’t changed, but I wasn’t preoccupied anymore.
It felt better.