Wednesday, September 28, 2005

After lunch yesterday I spent a couple of hours at the bookstore, a trip I had postphoned from last week when other errands became more urgent. Only now, I found I wasn't sure why I was there. The book sections were rearranged so I was further confused, but with a bit of wandering I found myself in the travel aisle and lost myself in descriptions of places I haven't been and some I have: history, geography, language, food. A week ago my presumed reason for coming to look through the books was to think about fun places I could travel on my own next year, but after a short time browsing it drifted into thoughts about where I might take the kids, and then, after scanning another 5-6 books, the vague unease of total disinterest. So I moved onto the fiction section. There is a "bookseller's pick" table where I often find books that interest me, and so I read backcovers of this and that and found nothing that I wanted to read. More precisely, I found many books I most definitely did NOT want to read. Moved on to the main fiction area and the first shelf where there were anthologies of stories by Irish authors and best erotica of 2005 and women's stories about breaking up and I even leaned there a while to read a whole short essay by Colum McCann (who is a terrifically lyrical author) but when I went over to check out his new book it didn't interest me either. I am out of reading material but I also seem to be out of my usual self so I pass up on the authors I might have bought a new book from, passed by the genres I would typically read, couldn't really stomach shelling out the money at all. I had thought to distract myself the ways I know work best, but like those match-a-shape toddler puzzles, nothing matched the cut-out I was holding up and it was beginning to bother me.

As I arrived at this realization and started to walk out of the bookstore I had a nearly complete out-of-body experience, watching myself take each step towards the door, no connection at all with the senses, feelings of the person who is me. I wonder for a moment who is in that body now? Where did her interest in things go? Did I leave myself behind in one of those books I had browsed? Does this happen to other people in bookstores?

Through the double doors and out into the parking lot I stepped, where five English sparrows fluttered and sputtered in a puddle near a parkstrip, bathing in the sun. They are not thinking or deciding anything, responsible for no one. Suddenly I am back in my body again.

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