Over the lunch hour, I stopped in Waldenbooks to see what bargains I could find. I admit I felt more like a vulture picking over the carcass of a once proud beast than a shopper. I found three books selling for 65% off. As the Clerk encourage me saying, “Whatever you purchase I don’t have to pack tomorrow”—packing on Wednesday, shipping on Thursday and computers taken and the doors locked on Friday. Nothing left but the empty space locked behind closed doors.
There was heaviness in the air identifiable over the aroma of the bleach used for cleaning empty shelves. Gone is the sweet fragrance of new books offering ideas, plots, characters, self-help and romance once the aura of this sacred space. Conversations in this space were always respectful and nearly hushed as shoppers ventured from shelf to shelf and world to world.
I bought a small book that seems very fitting now as I reflect on my time in what was once Waldenbooks. “Endpoint and other poems” by John Updike seemed an appropriate purchase.
In the title poem he says:
“Nature is never bored, and we whose lives
Are linearly pinned to these aloof,
self-fascinated cycles can’t complain,
though aches and pains and even dreams a-crawl
with wood lice of decay give pause to praise.
Birthday, death day—what day is not both?”
I will continue reading in part to mark this day. In reading ideas, visions, dreams and life are shared. Reading is one of my pleasures. I may read what I choose and this freedom I cherish and celebrate above all by reading.