For the first time in my life, I have nothing to read. Nothing! I’m totally disoriented. I’m twitching and hallucinating and muttering to myself. I’m visiting family, 3,000 miles away from my tower of nightstand books. I came here having hastily packed, with only one half-finished novel (which I read on the plane), thinking I would just buy new books while I’m out here. Because I’m not in the Middle of Nowhere. I’m in Seattle. A reading city, bursting with incredible bookstores.
But my time during bookstore hours has been taken up with family activities over Memorial Day weekend. My time has not been my own. I did orbit Third Place Books at a farmers market on Sunday, but had to help my parents carry vegetables. We had walked to the market, and had a big dinner to cook. I cast longing looks at the bookstore and experienced chest pains as I walked away. Radishes? Who cares about radishes? I am out of reading material, people!
I could have borrowed a book from my parents, but we have different tastes in reading (Death Begins in the Colon just isn’t calling out to me right now for some reason). Besides, it’s a new book I’m craving. An uncreased cover. The crack of a spine as I turn to page one.
I’ve never been in this situation. When I pack for a trip, I’m more likely to throw in an extra book than an extra shirt. I’ll wear the wrong type of footwear all week but have an ample layer of words. Even as a kid, I’d look forward to picking out my special “airplane books” so I’d never be caught without reading material. Maybe it’s a habit I picked up from my grandmother, who never went anywhere without a paperback mystery in a neat paper bag.
Yet here I am. Inexplicably bookless. I’m starting to understand the appeal of a Kindle.
I awakened early today, groping for a book that was not there. I looked at the clock. Three hours till the nearest bookstore opens. Could I dash there before visiting my grandmother? Squeeze in a book run before picking up my rental car and heading over to see my mother? One thing I love about my hometown is the abundance of drive-through coffee joints. Why don’t we have 24-hour drive-through bookstores? (The Kindle. I know, I know. I’ll think about it).
One hour and forty-two minutes until the nearest bookstore opens. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.