Bookstore? What bookstore?

Ever have one of THOSE weeks?

This week, returning from Istanbul and diving into wrapping up the semester at the college, I have logged less than three hours working in the bookstore. My loving spouse has been carrying the place solo as I careen from car to class to meeting to car, stopping only to fling my body horizontal in a darkened room for five hours at a time.

Yeah, it’s a first world problem. I’m playing catchup partly because I got to spend twelve days meandering the streets of Old and New Istanbul, hand in hand with my beloved. And when we got home, shopsitters Mark and Sally had left the place immaculate and organized.

That was Monday…. by Tuesday evening 12 big boxes of trade-ins sat on our bookshop floor. Clearly, some customers had been waiting for us to return.

My amazing husband was on his hands and knees in the back of the store last night, triaging the last of the paperbacks. I patted him on the shoulder as I raced past. Modern marriages are wonderful things.

And yet, in the midst of the chaos, beneath the burden of all that must  be done, there is a weight that doesn’t so much push down as hold up.

Wednesday past, as I turned out the light much later than I wanted to in preparation for climbing the stairs to bed, I stood for a few moments in our dark, calm bookstore. The walls were lined with books, silent sentinels of so many lives. Testimony that many had gone before, and survived, thrived, even recorded their journeys.

And I breathed. That smell, that lovely smell of dust and ideas–and lemon scent; our cleaner Heather is amazing–worked its way into my rapid-fire lungs. And I slowed down a little.

Just for three minutes, I stood, breathing. Just breathing. This too shall pass, this present cloud of bustle. Busy ends of the semester will return to summer beach readers and long, leisurely glasses of iced tea–or cups of hot tea–with customers who are friends, stopping by to ask about titles, offer reviews, show us their child’s report card.

It’s a good thing to have the weight of books in one’s life. Then I climbed the stairs to the bedroom, where on the left side of the bed a lump lay. The other anchor to my life, Jack, snored softly. Just breathing.

Fast food, furious grading, fast driving, faster meetings and all, I have the most wonderful life.

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9 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

9 responses to “Bookstore? What bookstore?

  1. Cathy Rickey

    Your thoughts reflect an appreciation of your “simply abundant” life. Beautiful blog, Wendy.

  2. afterwordsbooks

    Loved this post! So happy to hear you both enjoyed your time away together and isn’t it lovely to be home, truly home? We’re one week away from our grand re-opening and all the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into making this old house a home for all our books has been so worth it. I had one of those quiet moments myself as I started upstairs last night (entirely too late!) and looked down at the 8′ high shelves lovingly cradling our customer’s books, snug between the original, lovely woodwork I realized that I too had finally made my way home. Again, thank you so much for inspiring me to give it a go–time to go pinch myself again.

  3. And this post gave me a sweet deep breath just now. Thank you.

  4. Kathy

    Glad to have you on American soil again. Happy your trip was a success and now time to close out the school sign for a summer break. I for one look forward to the hot days of summer and trying out some smoothie recipes to make life a little bit smoother.

  5. I’m proud and pleased to be a customer-friend of the Little Bookstore. My friend was unable to visit with me last month because of ill health, but the good thing is she’s recovering and another visit is in the works when she’s stronger. I’m that cat lady also fighting the “ghosts of cat pee”. I used to think I was alone, but not any more thanks to you and my life is now much smoother.

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