Two Shopping Adventures – Part 1

I’m not much of one for spending a lot of money and I love books so when I heard about the Border’s half off one item coupon, it was a pretty sure thing that I would find some way to get to Border’s! The facts:

1. I love to browse in bookstores and libraries.

2. I love to take my time when doing so.

3. Having children along in any capacity makes those two things virtually impossible.

4. I had not been in a bookstore sans children for a good 5 years.

So, when Phred suggested that I go to the bookstore, without the children, I should’ve immediately flown out of my seat and been in the van heading to the store before he could blink. Instead, I hemmed and hawed about the matter. Should I really go? “Yes, I should,” he insisted. But I was tired and maybe I should just stay home. “No. Go to the bookstore,” my husband insisted once more.

“Oh, okay, I’ll go!” Joyfully, but with a bit of trepidation (after all, this was now the unknown), I gathered my things – no baby things, just mine – and headed out the door. Of course, we’d just bought a new (to us) mini-van, the epitome of mom-dom, and our CDs had not yet been moved into it. The radio had nothing good on so I drove in silence while pondering the madness that was going shopping without anyone but myself for company.

When I got to the store, it was a very exciting feeling. Here I was! At a bookstore! By myself! Wow! What a novelty. Of course I’ve been without my children from time to time since becoming a mother. I don’t stay with them 24/7, but usually when we find a sitter, it’s because I’m going somewhere with my husband or somewhere for my midwifery apprenticeship. I don’t think I’ve ever had a sitter just for me to go out and do something for me which probably sounds a little sad, but it just hasn’t been a priority. I enjoy my children and being with them. They’re only this small once and for a short time. But yes, that’s why this was such a novel experience.

So, I walked into the bookstore trying not to talk to myself out loud because I’m so used to talking to… someone… a child, my husband, my mom… I’m unaccustomed to being completely alone in public. Then I wandered around aimlessly for a good 20 minutes while I tried to remember how to focus all my attention on book-browsing without my attention being divided between browsing and keeping small children safe and within my line of vision at all times.

Eventually, I remembered – it’s so cliche, but yes, it was like riding a bike. Next, to figure out what I wanted! I had no idea. I tried the sci-fi section, but that didn’t seem quite right. I tried the history and biography section, but no, again, I was looking at books that I felt I ought to want to buy (and some were awfully tempting, like that brand new book about alcohol prohibition! I must get that one from the library one of these days…) instead of trying to find the one perfect book that “spoke” to me in just the right way.

I thought of a book that I’ve been wanting to buy for a while so I searched for it on the store’s computer. No luck. They didn’t even carry it new anywhere – just used – and I wanted to buy something that day. My goal, you see, was to buy a book that I could read a bit of while relaxing in the cafe and sipping a lovely, hot chai tea latte before heading home.

Thwarted, I wandered off again and found myself in the gardening section. Cool! Books about native trees and birds and landscaping for my region… they even had Joel Salatin’s book You Can Farm which is one I’d eventually like to buy. Interspersed between all the regular gardening books were more books about marijuana cultivation than I had ever seen before and I used to work at a store that sold hemp products and had a goodly selection of marijuana cultivation and “idea” books. This was endlessly amusing to me, given that I live in a fairly conservative part of the southern United States.

So I browsed through the gardening section for a while. Checking out all the titles and pulling out a few to look at more closely. Finally I chose an Audubon guide to plants and animals and birds in my region. I thought that it would be nice for the children and for Phred and myself to be able to identify those things when we go on walks.

But… I wasn’t totally sure. Because I had planned to buy a reading book, not just a reference book and I wanted to buy a book just for me because that really never happens anymore. So I regretfully put the book back on the shelf.

The next book I chose was a great one! It was all about landscaping and good plants to use in our state. Which ones were native and which ones were good at attracting butterflies and other creatures… most importantly, which ones could grow in mostly shade because that’s what our yard mostly has. But… no… this wasn’t a book to sit down and read. It was a reference book! “Stop picking up reference books and find a book that ‘speaks’ to you!”

That’s when I looked again at the very first shelf I had checked out – the one that had the Joel Salatin book on it – and I found it. A book about a doctor who only makes $11,000 a year for tax evasion purposes. She, this doctor, also lives in a 12’x12′ house which absolutely fascinated me! I knew at once that it was the right book. One that I can learn from and enjoy. One that I don’t agree with completely, but that I agree with enough. One that is a true story, but flows nicely like a novel.

I purchased my book for about $7 total (with the half of coupon) and headed to the cafe where I was able to sit in one of the cushy arm chairs and revel in the first chapter of my book before heading home, rejuvenated, to be engrossed for a time by the needs of my three little people.

And, yes, this trip happened several days ago. And no, I haven’t been able to read any more chapters, but I will, and I am looking forward to it!

Never, before becoming a parent, would I have dreamed that a simple trip to the bookstore could be so wonderfully intoxicating. I love my children more than I can express and I love being with them – all the more so because their needs that I fulfill make something so seemingly commonplace as a trip to the store by myself into a wondrous adventure.

The next adventure involves the children and I’ll write about it later. I hadn’t expected this post to end up being so long 🙂

~B.

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