Friday, April 29, 2011

my happy place.

{photo via here}

You know those places you go when you feel yourself sharpening? Your personality begins to grow edges that didn't exist before, and you know you have to escape before consequences ensue, so you set out for somewhere that brings you comfort.

There are a few places I run when I need to breathe: our tiny little townhome, with its cozy quilts and walls lined with precious photographs. My parents' home and its front porch swing, Mom and Dad ready to offer words of encouragement and the promise of food I don't have to cook. My aunt and uncle's house, dinner around the dining room table, grandmother behind the sewing machine, aunt behind the stove, and cousins blaring music in their bedrooms. Basically, where family is, I know I am home.

It makes sense, then, that I find peace in another place, a place where mom and dad and husband mostly are not, but a place that feels like home just the same: the bookstore.

Specifically, a locally-owned bookstore called The Bookshelf, located about 45 minutes away in Thomasville, Georgia. The drive never bothers me, because it's beautiful, and, as luck would have it, driving in nature with the windows rolled down happens to be another "happy place" for me.

Good, local bookstores are hard to come by in this age of technology, but the entrepreneur in my soul has always managed to find them. In the village of Highlands on a summer trip to North Carolina. In the ocean-view towns of Seaside and Amelia Island. On vacations to Savannah and Boston. Once they've been discovered, I treasure them. I remember books bought, memories made, whether there is enough comfortable seating and if the owner is friendly.

Then, lo and behold, I made this new discovery, accessible to me by a mere 45 minute drive out of town, and now I am hooked. I love this place, love it far more than Tallahassee's Barnes and Noble (a high school haunt and regular date night feature) and maybe more than any local bookstore I've ever been to. The decor is impeccable. They've got a few seats for in-store readers, and they sell a very select few handmade goods and paper products. (I generally avoid bookstores that sell too much stuff -- i.e., Books a Million -- but if a shop is well-curated, and the focus remains on books, I'm okay with it. And here, I'm okay with it.)

Mostly, though, I'm a little fascinated by the owner. Thanks to my wicked Googling and internet research abilities, I discovered that the owner sounds a lot like me: a former journalist turned-teacher, she settled into small town life by setting up shop. And I am in awe.

It's one of the things I've always wanted, to run my own business, to sell books to children learning how to read and adults trying to escape their 9-to-5 routines. I've had the name picked out for years, and now I've got the attorney and business-minded husband to help. But it's 2011, and people are starting to turn their noses up at paper. And my heart breaks a little, because I am the girl who sticks her nose in a book and breathes deep. I have dreamed of a bell on my door and hosting book clubs and sharing Anne of Green Gables with a little girl who I know will love it too. I can't and won't buy a Kindle or a Nook, not because I'm a snob, but because I refuse to be stuck behind another screen after my work day ends.

Like Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books, the kind that you hold in your hand and dive into head first. The characters are like my family, and entering a well-run bookstore is like going home.

I can't be certain if my own dream of bookstore ownership will ever come true. I guess only time and money and the patience of my husband will tell. For now, though, I'm content to drive down US 319, to visit familiar friends, to thumb through well-loved pages, and to support a girl whose dreams have become a reality.

I can feel my soul's edges disappearing already.

Where is your happy place?


Sabrina said...

Lake Ella or the beach OR a cupcake shop:)

Syd said...

Book store are my special place too, but sometimes I love just going to the library. You described the feeling perfectly-our souls sharpening. Reading is discovery and that expansion of self will forever be exciting to me!

You are a great writer. I am a newbie here but I love your blog already. Thanks for sharing!