You are significantly overwhelmed at bookstores. You cannot believe every title is alphabetized and has its own section. You realize you are slightly jealous that every spine’d story has a place to be. A home. You wonder if maybe you have chapter envy.
Every time you visit a bookstore you cry. This is not mentioned for pity; it is a fact marked by the salt which drips down your face each time you walk out. You have a library card which is meant to curb your desire to spend money. And yet, you find yourself purchasing the books you borrow because you want them closer to you. You want them to live beside you. You wonder if the only reason you became a writer was to have an exclusive pass to these shelves. You fantasize about being alphabetized and which writers would live to the left and right of you.
You go on a three week cleanse that lasts one week and in this time, you give up dairy, gluten, meat, alcohol and coffee. You get your protein from books: Thomas Page McBee, Vera Pavlova, Rebecca Gay. Your tongue has grown loose and sleepy from all the pages it has licked, but you no longer feel indigestion after a meal. Instead, you feel like you’ve learned something.
When you meet someone new and they invite you to their home, you study their bookcases. You learn more about them by the titles and organization of their books than you have from weeks/months/years of knowing them. You fall in love with a human who organizes by color; there was that one who shelved by size; you remain loyal to the one who did not alphabetize but permitted you to search out their order.
There was that time– let’s call it yesterday– when you had a difficult time leaving a bookshop with empty hands. You feel lonely when you do not have a book to get lost in. These characters, their stories become yours.
Read. The words are always there, even when you think you are alone. Words surround us just like air. And if there is ever a time you are somewhere without any text, speak and spread out your language like the most exquisite song you’ve ever heard.
Tomorrow, you will start carrying around an extra book to give away. This is for that moment you lock eyes with someone who has nothing better to do than swipe their finger back and forth on their fancy phone. Blow someone’s mind with Bukowski or Baldwin. You’ll never need an outlet or internet access to read. Just turn the page and get lost.
(I’ll meet you there.)