In my recent fiction writing endeavors, that Im launching soon, I began to question my use of narrative. Did I want first-person? Did I want some creepy stalker-like third person narrative? Now grant you, Ive already written the first chapter. For some reason I like to over think everything. Ill second guess most things. Dont ever get behind me at a RedBox. I want to see every choice. Then Ill make my decision. Then Ill change it. Then Ill change it back. Then Ill rent a movie.
Its the same way with buying wine. Or bread. It takes me exactly 22 minutes to choose a loaf of bread. Its just how I am. But if I am going to jump into this new project with a whole and pure heart, I better make my decision now because then theres no going back.
Yesterday I debated, maybe I should jump in my car and drive to the mall and explore Barnes and Noble and see how the other authors do it. But that would require things like, keys, cars and effort. Then I remembered a used bookstore I had passed one day within walking distance from my house. Two minutes, a ball cap and a pair of sneakers later, I was out the door headed for Beers Books.
Let me make the quick distinction here. Its Beers Books, not Beers and Books, which I happen to think would have been brilliant. But I made my way, pausing only once, stopped by the drooling Portuguese biker dressed in his full spandexed glory. I say drooling literally, not figuratively. Im not sure what was up with that. But he pulled a rag from his spandex, wiping it away, just before telling me Im a sexy woman. Seriously, if you could have seen me yesterday you would have thrown rocks at me or likely given me a dollar. It was that bad. So I ended my conversation with the man by replying to his question with, no I wont give you a hug and continued on my way.
I rounded the corner and saw this big blue face on the side of a building. It was the place. I just never noticed the big face before. I couldnt see the sign but I saw the carts of books out front and well, theres just something magical about a used book store.
I walked in to this locally famous place. I had read about it on Yelp. I remembered reading there was a cat supposedly that roamed the rows of books freely. I like intellectual cats.
But what I immediately loved was that the doors were open and this blustery day had blown a multitude of leaves in to the store, scattered about down the aisles. They didnt care. Let the leaves blow.
I have such a love and reverence for books. When I first walked in all I could do was gently glide my hands down the spines taking in the overall ambience of the place. I heard a couple debating civil war anthologies and I laughed as to how different of a conversation it was the previous weekend at the sports bar where the most intelligible repeated word was dude.
As I settled on my similar genre, I found a series of Diane Johnson books, authoress of Le Divorce, LAffaire, etc. etc. I overheard another conversation between two twenty-something women agreeing over Wuthering Heights being one of the more wretched books in existence. They compared the love between Heathcliffe and Catherine to having major painful surgery.
They obviously havent been in love yet.
But the books. Oh God, the books. When I find books with highlights already in them, I become almost giddy. I love seeing what other people find important. And I as I made my way around the last aisle I found a section wholly devoted to Jack Kerouac, which is oh-so California. But I read a quick bit of On the Road, and saw this.
the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing,
I thought about how Jack Kerouac would have likely appreciated my indecisive ways. And I also started thinking how much I like my people like I like my books.
I like people who have been slightly used and gently weathered. I like people who arent shiny and clean, but with a bit of leaves tossed about in their hair. I like people already highlighted. I like seeing what theyve thought and imagine where theyve been.
In this day and age we put so much emphasis on the young, new, perfectly botoxed and shiny! But Id take a dusty person with wrinkles that tell a tale any day of the week. I realize theres so much value in used.
People say used. I say experienced.
They say old. I say wise.
They say mad. I say brilliantly so.
I just wish people wouldn’t strive so hard for perfection when they are perfectly wonderful, in all their historied, messy glory.
And as I left, with the answer I had come for, I stopped and asked about the cat.
Oh, shes been dead, what it is it now? the bespectacled pixie clerk asked an older man. Two years now.
I replied with how they still talk about her on Yelp, so she obviously had made quite an impression. Then added, In that case Im sorry I brought up your loss! They laughed and thanked me as I left the store. And then added, Come back sometime.
Oh, I will.