Some past Saturday evening, I walked into a bookstore. A simple thing really, but it’s something I haven’t done in many years. There are very few bookstores these days, so I was surprised to find the huge Barnes and Noble at Union Square open and full of customers. There was a time when I spent entire days in bookstores, in that Borders on 53rd street in Hyde Park, lost in some adolescent dream or another. I remember the day I discovered J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, I was 10 years old. My mama, frantic with worry found me huddled in a corner fixated and enchanted. I’d devoured some 200 pages.
Books were my sanctuary. I consumed them feverishly, as if they’d be ripped from my hands at any moment. It got so bad that my mama would make me return a stack for a refund if I got through them in under a week. (Apparently I was too good to use my library card.)
I still read at this rate, losing myself on the train to and from work; or for hours tucked away in my ring box sized apartment. Only now, my books are with me at all times. It’s the 21st century and I’ve gone digital, something I’d thought I’d never do. My Kindle currently has some 800 + books purchased over the past 4 years, and that doesn’t include the ones I’ve rented. I’d thought I’d miss feeling the pages on my fingers, the smell of ink and cotton. But I’ve adjusted and adapted, just as I’ve done in so many other aspects of my life.
Stepping inside the Barnes and Noble I paused momentarily, waiting for the familiar nostalgia to wash over me… But it didn’t come. I wandered up the escalators walking through aisles, and even strolling in the DVD section (I am a cinephile after all) but still…nothing. Surrounded by so many books I’ve read, and the millions I’ve yet to discover; I felt empty.
On the top floor of the store, I paused in the African-American section (yes they still have those) running my finger over the book bindings while sipping my coffee, when suddenly the lights went off. “Ten minutes to closing” the announcement is bellowed over the loud speaker. I dropped my hand from the books, and made my way down the the first floor. Pushing open the door to the cool fall evening, I pulled my sweater around me leaving the 10 year old girl I was back inside.
xoxoxo Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxox