Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Posted by Maggie May Labels: Babies To Teenagers
I have panic attacks at Borders. Since Dakota was born, I have been taking him to this Borders, located in San Diego CA on a certain corner of a certain shopping center, next to Petco, where for years I spent hours every week perusing fish and reptiles with Dakota. Dakota's first 'group' was at Borders, the story time for toddlers where at 21 years old I sat, worried that my son wouldn't 'behave' and the other mothers would look at me with scorn and think ' Young and stupid, no idea what she's doing. ' But he behaved. And we loved it. Every week, sometimes more than once, we would go to Borders, stopping first at the coffee counter for Mommy's coffee with cream and Splenda, picking up a few magazines and books for Mommy and then heading back to the Children's Section. Magical Children's Section, where I prided ( and pride ) myself on being a Mother who makes her children pick up after themselves, and not leave piles of stuffed animals and books across the floor for an employee to sort through, shelve. ( Those Children Section employees must be some of the most disillusioned and frustrated employees, ever, by the warning glances they give out, before we've even sat down. )
I would read my magazines and books, drink my coffee, and then it was Dakota's turn. I sat and read Captain Underpants, Pokemon, Transformers, Dragons and Wizards, Pirates, children's poetry, The Ant Bully, The Jolly Pocket Postman, Courderoy and every other book Dakota desired to hear.
After Lola was born, I would drop Dakota off at school and head over to Borders with Lola firmly tucked into the Baby Bjorn. Weekends, Dakota Ian and Lola would come with Mr. Curry and I and drink and read, read read. The boys went through a huge animae stage and comic style books took over, until it evened out again and Ian's interests turned toward science fiction and biography, and Dakota's toward how-to instruction and older comic.
At some point, I leave the kids with Mr. Curry and head toward the novel section. And it begins.
I look at the high filed bookcases stacked neatly with straight-backed novels, hardcover and soft, bright and shining, clean and newly printed. Rows and rows of novels spread out before me, names I adore but have not read every work like Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving, Duras, zadie Smith, Philip Roth, Tim O'Brien and authors I have read about but not read the work, like John Cheever (so excited to begin his works!) Camus, Proust. Then the biographies- I adore biographies- some of my favorite books like zelda and Savage Beauty and Unquiet Mind next to curiosities like Them and The Mitford Sisters. Then there are the lighter reads I could consume in a few hours, books that are good reads but lighter fare, like The Big House, Monsters of Templeton, Disquiet. So. Many. Books.
I begin to pull out books. I've always wanted to read John Adams, recommended by my mom, but am I in the mood? Add it to the stack. Oh there is the old John Irving I've never read, maybe I'm in the mood? Add it. Here is a Hemingway I never read, and I want to read all his work, should read this, add it. What about Barbara Kingsolver? I liked her book in Africa..what was the name..I'll add one of hers... Here's an old work of poet Sharon Olds, I know I'd love it, add it.
Soon I have ten books cradled in my arms against my breasts, up to my chin. I sit down. A small sweat prickles my brow. I promised Mr. Curry I would only spend 20$. I cannot buy more than two small books or one large for that amount. I look at my ten novels. I know I need to stop adding books. But they tower around me so beautifully!!! Look at the covers. I open a book and smell the thick paper. It smells so wonderful, I wonder why they don't make an air freshener called New Novel. The black stamped fonts stand out so crisp and fresh. The hardback covers are so satisfyingly tangible, so gorgeous in the thick weighted colors. The soft covers are beautifully illustrated. I love used books stores, but for very different reasons, and cannot get from them what I get from a store like Borders, with it's sweeping towering bookshelves full of brand new books.
I take the top book from the pile, open and speed read the first chapter. I do this for each book.
I am a true speed reader, and this takes only a short time. As I hold the last book in my hand, which I have sped read the last chapter as well ( a terrible habit ) I look up to see my entire family standing together. The three children hold books and push each other, make jokes. Mr. Curry is raising his eyebrows. ' Are you ready? ' he asks. ' Already? ' I reply. ' It's been an hour and half, Maggie! '
My heart is racing. I look at my stacks of books and pull the one book I think I have decided to buy. But they also have a limited edition hard backed Pride and Prejudice which is so pretty! But no. I own two PandP already. Take the one I will read. I feel a bit like crying. Mr. Curry moves away and gestures at me encouragingly. ' C'mon...let's go...' he says nicely. He knows how I am. I hold the book closely. I look upward at all the books I cannot take, the illustrated guides to birds that I love, the home decor bohemian style, the book on Women's Health I hadn't even opened yet, the novels and classics I must read! I want to take at least three more!
I move toward the cash register and look down at the book in my hands. I must focus on this one novel.
Read it like it's burning!
Read it like you have all the time in the world!