Between the Shelves

Between the Shelves picBookstores are like Disneyland to me – better even, because you don’t have to pay for entry, it’s nice and quiet and there’s no long lines (probably because no one reads anymore). And unlike shopping at a retail store with well-meaning, possibly commission-dependent sales associates breathing down your neck with every sweater you pick up, I get the feeling that the folks at Barnes and Noble are okay with incomers getting high off the smell of the New York Times bestsellers pages with no intent to make a purchase. At least I hope so.

The other day I said to my sister, “I’m feeling kind of down; I’m going to Barnes and Noble.” No

My mood is an odd thing – I don’t really know why most of the time – but even more so in this awkward transition period between the end of school and whatever trajectory I’m supposed to be on as a 21-year-old. Sometimes I find myself enthralled by the idea of the world being my oyster, and other times I’m crippled by anxiety that a simple, oh-so-helpful “Stop worrying!” quip cannot cure.

While walking across the graduation stage back in May to receive the frame of my [but without the actual] diploma, the Jostens guys captured a nice shot of me smiling all toothily as I shook President Jon Wallace’s hand, as if he and I had been waiting for this moment our whole lives (although he probably has no idea who I am).

When I look at the Jostens photograph now, I feel like somewhat of a phony. Graduation day was a more scary event for me than a joyous one – “precarious” was a word I’d learned to drop in every conversation regarding my next steps.

Also, I’m terrible with goodbyes in that I avoid them when I can, or at least the gravity of the finality of some goodbyes. So I took a more casual approach; saying “See you soon!” to friends I probably wouldn’t see very soon, with the hope that no one took this casual approach personally and that “soon” would be sooner rather than the more realistic “later.”

The weirdness of ^that combined with school being done, ended, finished! was a new experience, along with the finality of bringing my belongs back in the house and hometown I grew up in, and not just for a summer or Christmas break.

I know what you’re probably thinking – “Oh God, I got trapped into ANOTHER long-winded, semi-nostalgic post about not being sure about anything.” I’ve been working on a couple of projects actually, but when things get more finalized, that will be something I’ll happily share.

No, no, no. This is about the titular shelves, and why I prefer long strolls through them versus sandy beaches.

I haven’t kept a tally, but let’s just say I’ve familiarized myself with the “Good Beach Reads” titles of one of the B&N tables on the second floor.

I’m probably not as voracious a reader as I would like to appear, but I do enjoy it when I get the chance and was no different at playground age. I’d read in a moving car even if it made me carsick, at sleepovers (it’s okay because she was reading too) and became an instant fussbudget when someone would dare interrupt my “me time” with an attempt at conversation. I liken my reaction to a dude-bro’s when someone stands in front of the TV screen during March Madness.

Reading provides a temporary escape, so the cliché goes, but the actual act of selecting, browsing and re-shelving books has become a source of solace to me over time. Like listening to smooth jazz or sipping on cheap $4 wine. There’s no way I’ll be able to read every single title that looks intriguing, just like one can’t learn every language there is to know.

I think I just like the idea of all the unexplored terrain bookstores provide. I can’t explore every single page or story, and there’s no expectation for me to either. But knowing that something good is literally just around the corner is equally comforting.

I didn’t mean for all this to become a metaphor (or simile, rather) but alas, sometimes you have to be okay with sounding like a Hallmark card.


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