Traveling Books

I made it to Florida. It turned out to be a really long trip. Longer than the first time I made it just two short weeks ago. I met my aunt a third of the way there in Alabama and did a little local touring of her new property. I was in awe at the fact that in the middle of small town Alabama, a gas station exists where they still trust you to put gas in your car FIRST before you pay. Can you imagine? I don’t remember the last time I put gas in my car and it wasn’t automatically assumed that I was a thief and would quickly get in my car and take off while laughing maniacally yelling “foiled again, suckers” out of my car window. I think I had just turned legal drinking age the last time that happened.

As much as I love the city, there really is something to be said for Small Town, USA. As long as it’s not after dark, because then I think the only thing to be said is “start praying now that you don’t run out of gas and have to ask the sheriff for a ride to the nearest gas station.” In my mind, as soon as it gets dark, every small town in any city anywhere immediately becomes small town Maine. The sheriff is also the town serial killer. I immediately know my door locks will not work and the car will not start. I know that sooner or later, I will inevitably be running down a dirt road with no street lights getting chased by an overweight sweaty man in a uniform with an over-sized hat who is surprisingly fast for how large he is and I will be chained up in a barn somewhere and be tortured while watching hungry rats circle my feet. I thank Stephen King for my aversion to literally everything after the sun goes down.

Aside from instilling a love of writing in me, Mr. King has also instilled a HUGE paranoia problem that even the most talented therapist cannot likely get me to the other side of. But, that’s what happens when you fall in love young. It doesn’t matter what Stephen King writes about, I will buy it and I will read it. Well, most of it. I am still holding a small grudge against him for “retiring” all those years ago and sending me into a spiral of depression because I could not bear the thought of never reading a new King novel again. He’s come out with at least a dozen more since then and I haven’t really forgiven him yet. But how can you be mad when someone you love rises from the dead? (I will refrain from making any Jesus jokes here).

My point is, I love books. And when I find an author I like, I binge them like Netflix after a breakup. I’ve been doing a lot of personal development and inspirational books this year. I don’t think I’ve even picked up a piece of fiction. These things happen in cycles.

When I was doing my crossing guard gig, I was listening to Glennon Doyle’s Untamed. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t usually listen to audio books. I feel a little like I’m being cheated when I do. Or maybe it’s that I feel like I’m cheating. Either way, I have audio books and when I get the itch to hear one, I will listen, but I love the whole experience of reading a book.

I like turning the pages. I like the way the paper smells. I like the book covers that are always trying to fall off the hardbacks while you read. I like being able to dog ear the pages…sacrilege, I know, but again, blame Stephen King, he said it was fine. I don’t even care that the likelihood of all of my used books having been in a stranger’s bathroom before is probably really close to the 100% mark. I just love physical books.

Fast forward to yesterday, we stopped into Barnes and Noble in Birmingham. I haven’t been into a bookstore since quarantine started. My local bookstore brings your books out to you and will not let you in without an appointment. I’ve felt it to be extra important to support local through this whole traumatic ordeal so I’ve not gone into a big box store in over a year. Until yesterday.

I forgot how many books are in a Barnes and Noble. Every book you could ever imagine. AND THE SMELL! Like clean, bathroom-less paper that has only ever seen the inside of a printing machine. It’s glorious. I like to walk through the store, lightly rub my hand across a bookshelf or two. Head to the section I’m most interested in and marvel at the covers. I’m a judger. I don’t know if that is a word, but it is now. I judge all books by their covers. The only time I ignore the cover is if I’ve been recommended a book to read and then I don’t care about the cover.

The cover that got me yesterday was for a book called, Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies. Also, books with fuck in the title usually catch my eye. I paged through it and decided it was definitely worth a read. I also think it’s bad luck to go in a bookstore and leave empty handed.

But the problem was, I was in Birmingham so I couldn’t really stop to read. I did read a few pages before getting back on the road while I waited for my aunt to take care of some business, which was how I landed in the bookstore in the first place. We were caravanning back to Florida together. And within the first few pages, I knew that I was in for a treat. But, I also knew, that now I wanted to read something.

I pulled my audible up and decided to listen to Glennon Doyle again. If you have never read Untamed (or listened to it), I highly suggest it. I actually really like this book on audible because it is read by the author.

I really like people who have a soothing soul. That does not necessarily mean that they have found inner peace or any of that, it just means that they have a way of soothing YOUR soul. Glennon Doyle is one of those people when she reads Untamed. It’s like going and having a seat at your favorite tea room as the barista (is that what they are called in tea room? I don’t know) tells you about the special teas she’s just gotten in from some Buddhist monk in Tibet that is sure to make you reflect on the choices you’ve made in your life and will actually answer the one question you can’t seem to figure out by the time you are finished with your cup. If you can imagine that voice. That’s Glennon Doyle.

I’m a fan of people who have risen from their own ashes. Especially when they were the ones who burned themselves to the ground in the first place. It makes me think of Flea Market Guy and our relationship. It makes me think about God and that relationship. It makes me think about my own demons. I guess I’m just a fan of anyone who secretly (or not so secretly) struggled and came out on the other end of it stronger and brighter than before. I’m a fan of people finding their own light. So I have been drawn to books that hint at that light being found.

Anyway, that was a really long way for me to say, I listened to an audio book and I bought a new book yesterday.

Read something today if you get a chance. You’ll be a little better for it.

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