You’re making sangria. We laugh down the wine-aisle. I tell you mine’s best—red wine and brandy. You say you’ll try it, someday, then look away. I confess to trying anything after two glasses, which is out of context but I want to get it out there. You raise an eyebrow at the possibilities.
We smile across scented melons, grapes that dangle, berries blushing, smooth nectarines.
I ask why you’re buying so much soda; I’m caffeine free. You say it’s something she needs for migraines. She throws up, you justify. That’s too bad, I offer false sympathy. She calls wondering what’s taking so long, adds more to the list. He sends a text wondering where the cupcake went, the one with green icing leftover from last night’s party. I write back, I don’t know.
He’s afraid it’s gone to my ass. You can’t keep your hands off my ass.
At the checkout, I go first. The cashier takes in our separate carts and separate checks, and wonders what our story is. I lean against you and forget where we are.
…One of my bookshelves sags. Another bookshelf teeters. The books that don’t fit on the shelves are in my closet, where normal people might keep sweaters. Buying (and reading) books for me is more than a habit; it’s an almost financially ruinous compulsion. But I like to think that it keeps me sane; at least, I don’t want to know what my life would be without books.
If you meet me, you might think I’m anxious and slow to focus (you’d be correct). You might notice how I chew my fingernails when I’m nervous and how I continuously turn over any object near at hand when I’m bored. You might think I don’t have the attention span for books. Look, a tiny child running through the library! Outside the window is a park and spring’s greenest grass and this spaniel mutt with a little brown on the ears and, ho! overhead the rotors of a helicopter cut the air as the sound of its motor splinters the manufactured stillness of a library.
But books, my dears, books are a soundproof room and half a Xanax and a chair, a comfortable chair that’s not too soft. To someone who doesn’t understand books like we do, books are a fine story, maybe an afternoon escape, a nice place to visit but nowhere that they’d want to live (I stole this image from a book, but I don’t remember which). But you and I know differently. I’ve seen you on the Halsted bus, the UP-North Metra, on a blanket in Humboldt Park indifferent to the smells of barbeque and the hum of families, you the book sniffers, the book gropers, you are reading and you look so heartbreakingly perfect that for a moment I’m in love with you…