Walking through the bookstore, heading towards the crowded checkout counter to purchase the ornithology book my thirteen year old needed, Sparks caught my eye. Nicholas Sparks. I've enjoyed a couple of his tear-inducing movies and a thought entered my mind that a book might be nice. It has been too long since I've gifted myself a tome of literature. Next to Sparks was Niffeneger. I have this book but lent it to a friend greatly in need of hope, romance, and the need to lose herself if only for a moment. I wonder if she's had the chance to read it. How long has it been? Dorian Gray. The name on the spine is familiar. I remember at one point in my life wishing for a son by that name, Dorian, because it sounds like a smoky grey song. To me, music is seen in colors and felt in fabrics. But I did not name my sons Dorian because there were stronger names meant for them. Family names. I pull the book from the shelf and notice the price is only $3.99. For an amount equal to twenty minutes of my time I could own a piece of great literature which would be a part of me for a lifetime. A few pennies more than the chai latte with soy I would purchase a few minutes later and I would have another book to pass to my brilliant children. Do I spoil them? Does giving them volumes beyond those perceived by others to be appropriate reading for their grade level make them more prone to teasing? I pray the benefits of accelerated reading outweigh the few years of torment they must endure when their peers realized that their intelligence is not an act. For now, thirteen must endure it because she reads at a college level while her "friends" are still struggling through eighth grade. In the back of my mind I know we are pinching pennies. Five children to feed, a new house which I only just paid the deposit on this morning. But $3.99 Dorian Gray is looking through me, touching the heart that loves the written word, tempting me with promises of words and phrases, quotes that I would finally understand, meanings that would enhance who it is that I really am. I hold the book, warm and smooth and precious. A few shelves over, a colorful cover catches my eye and I squat down to see what it is when I notice a small black and white cover in a pattern much like the feathers of an ostrich. It is a book of sudoku puzzles but in a wordless cover that is flocked in black. A pleasure for the senses - touch and sight. Again, $3.99. High above the shelves I notice a sign. I've discovered the bargain book wall - 75% off. My heart leaps with joy at this simple discovery. People my size rarely look up that high. It seems my world is always looking up and I enjoy my own time when I can look at my own level. So surely this is a discovery. I take a small step back from the books and I see just how vast this treasure trove really is. Authors I know, most I don't. All of them just waiting to be discovered. My new home has built in shelves. So many books could find a home there. I take my two treasures and the beautiful book of birds to the less crowded counter of the bookstore cafe. I learn that I can purchase the books and my tea there. I pay, I sit. I crack open Dorian Gray and learn the sad tale of his author. Will anyone ever read my story? I'd like to think it's a happy story. I always seems happy. One of thirteen's teachers says I should write a book on how to be happy. If she only knew the truth. She would cry. I am happy today because I don't believe in being sad. I've been there. God helped me find my way out. He gave me children to live for. He gave me supportive parents and set me still long enough to find the man who was meant for me. I am only great and happy because I've not got the right to be sad. I survived it. I will write it when I am ready, for now I will just live it. My tea arrives and I hold the warm cup, warm books (I did not want a bag) and head out into the cold. This is not weather we are used to in New Mexico - ice and snow. My car is warm. I drive past the house that will soon house my new treasures. I have plans for that house. It will be our home. It will hear our laughter, children playing, dancing in the kitchen, the new baby crying. Friends will come to eat and talk and play cards. We'll have epic Halloween parties. It looks beautiful in the snow. I pull into the driveway of the home I've shared with my family for three years. Six people, one bathroom. It's been fun and leaving is bittersweet. I love this house. I have promised to try to find a nice family for it. I almost wish we didn't have to leave but our girls are becoming teenagers and they need more privacy. New baby makes seven now with one bathroom and I'd really appreciate taking a shower without having to leave the door unlocked. I miss my privacy too. I hand the book of birds to thirteen. She takes it in her hands and presses her head to it. "Thank you mom." She notices I've got two other books and I can see her interest. It makes me proud. Then she says good night and kisses me on the check, still with her book in her hands. She tells me I smell like gingerbread.
And I smile.