I just realized that this week will mark 3 months that I’ve been in isolation. A quarter of a year locked in a sort of pause. I’ve left my yard four times in these months, because I’m immunocompromised and I’m afraid of getting sicker. I work at home and write and try to help with the bookstore, but at a distance, or I sneak up there late at night to do small things when I can. Mainly though it’s been our amazing team (Elizabeth, Vicky and Matt) working in shifts to put together furniture and start stocking the shelves and mailing out books and setting up zooms and doing amazing work so that one day when it’s safe we can open our doors for you.
There’s still a lot to be done and so many more books to stock and words to paint on walls and displays to make and tables to assemble and community spaces to create, but this weekend I snuck up to the store and – if you look at it with just the right kind of eyes – it looked like an actual fucking bookshop.
I went through the stacks and saw so many books I already love and so many more I want to read and I may have yelled, “I’M SHOPLIFTING ALL OF THESE” and then Victor glowered at me a little because apparently that’s not how “good business” works.
But as I walked through the store I could imagine what it will be like when it’s fully stocked. When we add murals and signs and possibly some light taxidermy in lovely outfits and a 4 foot pig who we’ve agreed can hang out in the back hall by the bathrooms because not everyone loves him like I do.
“I want to paint little phrases all over the store,” I tell Victor. “Like, over the exit it should say something like, “IT CAN BE DANGEROUS OUT THERE. ARM YOURSELF WITH A GOOD BOOK.”
He tells me that I just want permission to vandalize stuff and that’s partially true but it’s more than that. I hope when Nowhere opens it feels magical to everyone who enters…a true sort of sanctuary that only ever existed to me in bookstores and libraries.
I watch people pass by the store and look inside. They stare at the sign we put up telling them that we aren’t open yet but will be one day soon when it’s safer for everyone. It feels sad. And so I made a new sign…
After I posted the new sign I sat in my car and watched people pass by the store. Most didn’t notice the sign and that’s fine. But one man did, and he smiled and then read the sign to the two young children he had with him. And their eyes widened and they cupped their hands around their eyes to look inside. They pointed at shadows and searched for signs of the basilisk. One of them tried to open the door, as her dad laughed. Kids are impossibly brave. Their imaginations are full. For them, magic is always present…adventure is possible….monsters are real, but they can be changed or tamed or vanquished.
And they’re right. We just need to be reminded once in awhile.