We had a place we loved to look through. It smelled of mildew, that odor that said old things rested here, the carpet upstairs worn and threadbare. The walls were filled with shelves, and treasures slept there waiting to be plucked up. The old church had become a repository of the tales of imagination, lives lived, things to be done, and wonders to be discovered. It had so many different stories it would take a thousand lives to consume everyone, but seekers like us came searching for the ones that would light our minds aflame.
Back and back, we would go, through new books, by the room of posters, into the nonfiction, then up the stairs to the old, used books. That was the haunt of forgotten words. The ghosts of stories long set aside and hoping for rediscovery. The Village Bookstore was a beacon to the likes of my person and me. We would spend hours just pulling the old books off the shelf and sharing the excitement of a find that connected with our hearts.
Over the years, we found some books we treasure here. One that sits beside me now as I write this blog, an autographed old book of folklore. The Screaming Ghost and Other Stories Collected and Told By Carl Carmer, Illustrated by Irv Docktor. It takes me back to a time when I would read scary stories in the dark with a flashlight underneath my blanket. To a time when ghost stories circulated among the kids in your class. When she pulled it from the shelf and showed it to me with her eyes alight, I knew this one was coming home with us. I can’t look at this book without seeing the smile on her face, the excitement she exuded at its discovery, and the childlike glee on owning this collection of folklore.
I miss the Village Bookstore, and I miss those times spent there searching with my favorite person. Watching someone I love getting as excited as me to find some arcane, forgotten book is a treasure all in its own that I can’t take for granted. So while we no longer walk among the ghosts of forgotten words at the Village Bookstore, we still have the treasure of what we shared and even better the books we found there. So as I look at some old tome of folklore on my desk, it takes me to another place like it did when I first encountered it. It is a different place than it took me initially, but it is still a good one. On a day like today, one set aside to remember the love in our life, it takes me somewhere I would stay for all time.
I can still see her, the pungent scent of old ink and paper heavy in the air, the gray light coming through the window in her golden hair, eyes ablaze with excitement pulling this book from the shelf. The beautiful smile, a smile that the whole face shows its joy, she wore emblazoned into my heart. She had done it again, the find of the day, she won. With an old book of folklore, she continued to best me by ensnaring my heart and finding a way to let me take that treasure home and the book too.