Recently I was in a library. You know the scene. Paper rustling, old cushioned chairs, an indestructible rug, hushed voices, overhead air blowing, throats clearing, necks cracking, lots of wooden shelves and cubbies and tables, pale-faced librarians smiling shhhhh.
I was going to go to Starbucks but then the library beckoned. There wasn’t green iced tea there but I felt silent and hidden, as opposed to Starbucks where I feel obvious and judged.
I wanted to smell the books. Stick my nose in them and keep going down the rows sniffing and gulping the pages. I wanted to swallow stories whole.
I used to go to bookstores. Bookstores are bright and social and full of razzamatazz. They’re like eating a bag of Skittles – a zillion little pieces of candy so colorful and yummy and fruity and sweet and you just can’t stop. Until your tongue is purple-red and the sugar high jolts you and then crashes and you’re sick to your stomach. All those beautiful colorful books make me feel like I’ll never get the chance to join them. So lately I’ve crinkled the empty Skittles bag and raised my fists to the sky and shouted, “Curse you bookstores.” And I don’t go.
But libraries are so contained. They are William Blake’s world in a grain of sand. They are Stonehenge. The TARDIS. Out of place and time. But they can send me into a panic too. There’s an undertow. Something ancient and secret and predestined. Something a little sacred and scary.
Truth is, whether it’s a bookstore or the library, I go there because of the writing. And it’s the writing, even the hope of writing, that really frightens me.
Writing is a terrible beast. It makes me feel old and awkward and stupid and stuck. I feel vulnerable and exposed and never good enough. I feel defeated before even trying. Like I’m in an unrequited relationship that’s killing me.
I can’t stand loving something that makes me feel this way. It’s heartbreaking and nerve-wracking and depressing. But I can’t stop. Too much history and hope. Too many moments of joy when I produce something from thin air that sends a little quiver up my spine and into my soul. It feels like magic. It feels impossible and yet true.
So what’s a girl to do? Give up? Move forward blindly? Grasp at straws? Write?
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)