Admittedly, I find it cute and amusing when someone says the following to me: I know you, Beth.
Are there some people in the world who know me better than others? Rhetorical. Are there some who’ve only known a particular part of me, a part I purposefully chose to allow them to know? Rhetorical as well but I’ll give you a clue: the majority.
For example, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that my friends might use some quasi-nice adjectives to describe me (I said friends, not haters.) Yet, who among men (or women – it’s a saying, people) would know that I relish bookstores and libraries? Honestly, I think most of them would argue they knowthere’s no way, that I’m just trying to somehow trick them into believing there’s another petal on that onion. But they’d be wrong and I’d be further amused.
I adore books. Not in the traditional “I like to read” sort of way; rather, in an “I am absolutely in love with them” sort of way. Being a lover of language, I’m not sure if this is due to the adrenaline rush literally being surrounded and ensconced in books causes; or, from the mere idea of the endless possibilities they contain. Maybe it’s simply because I know the story I want to write. And how I (still stupidly) long for it to end…
I have a particular affinity for used bookstores. You know, the kind of stores that are bursting at the seams with so many books in racks and bins spilling out onto the sidewalk, beckoning me like dark chocolate and Riesling to come hither and have a look around. How can you not be immediately seduced by the countless titles calling out from the unsteady makeshift shelves haphazardly strewn outside? Stretched out are endless rows of real and imaginary tales beckoning to be discovered by just the right person; that one person with whom the story will resonate, their own life drawing an eerily similar parallel.
Once, I picked up a book about Tristan and Isolde. When I stopped rolling my eyes, I noticed an inscription on the inside cover which read: “1989 – To my dear friend JK, this needs no explanation. Always, Anne” Those words alone stirred up so many immediate emotions. Where the hell was the dark chocolate and
whiskey Riesling hiding in this place? I had no idea who JK or Anne were, but I absolutely wanted to know their fate…how their story ended. Come here and tell me, Anne. That way, I can either rejoice with you or punch you in the head to knock some sense into you.
People who “know” me may think it’s silly that I consider such things about plain, old, used books. But I actually think it is because they are so ordinary, so unremarkable in their existence that they are of such unique value. They are used books, hand-me-down narratives, second and third-time-around stories. They’ve been beaten up, abused, laughed at, cried over, held tightly, and anxiously awaited.