The Place I Do Not Rest

enlight1

I made my way slowly through the aisles with purpose, though what purpose I wasn’t sure. My eyes took in letters which made up words, clothed in different colors. I was the hunter with no idea of my prey though I was certain it would be made clear in that moment when I happened upon it. I would get the familiar rush of adrenaline as I readied myself to pounce on my unsuspecting victim. It was a quest I was all too familiar with though today’s pursuit felt different.

It was the twenty-third anniversary of my dad’s death and this year’s approach was one of distraction. The family decided a trip to the bookstore was in order. Through the years, I’ve tried staying busy, clearing my schedule, looking through old photos, shopping. You name it, I’ve tested it. What I’ve grasped is that it is an emotional day no matter what I’m doing. The truth is the only thing that makes this day different from any other is the memories of what transpired on October 1st, 1993. Otherwise, my dad is a part of my every day, my every decision. I was only twenty-two when he died so this year seems notably strange given he’s been gone longer than he was with me.

I felt a bit out of sorts as I distractedly glanced at the books the kids presented me, paying special attention to the ones that elicited just the amount of enthusiasm I had spent years cultivating since the first time I brought them to story time as toddlers. I love seeing them take a photo of a book cover so they can remember it next time given my rule – one book purchase per visit. They know I’m a sucker when it comes to books and will often break that rule, particularly on days when I can’t decide between two titles. As their small fingers pinched spines and slid each book from its place between two others who held up that moment’s chosen one, I wondered what drew them to it. Was it the title, the font, the color or just an inner pull they couldn’t deny? That pull was one I was all too familiar with having surrendered to it numerous times in my life.

The involuntary reach for a book in a section I wouldn’t normally peruse or the compulsion to hold a certain book, gently run my fingers over the front cover, tracing each letter, before setting it back down is an urgency that borders on the sensual for me. I am at peace surrounded by the creations of those who have filled the pages bound before me, which is why I was completely mindful today’s visit was no coincidence. My loved ones know this as my happy place and commandeered today’s schedule to bring me here. And yet, today lacked the peace I searched for as I wandered the aisles, glancing at titles. My children’s running commentary blending with the store’s music selection and the sounds of espresso machines not quite drowning out the occasional “shhhh” from parents in the midst of teaching their child the proper bookstore etiquette made me long for the sanctuary of my bedsheets before my mind registered today’s date.

Like a drifter, I continued to travel the aisles with no definitive direction to my journey. As I turned a corner I noticed a single book out-of-place. It wasn’t the color that made it stand out or even its nondescript cover but the fact that it was the only book on the shelf not tucked in between others. Rather, its cover faced forward, propped against a row of titled spines. There was that pull again, that involuntary draw, that urgency to reach for it.

White block letters on a cloudy gray background, “PLEASEFINDTHIS” – no spaces, all caps.

Black cursive – I wrote this for You and only You

No author

Back cover: I NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING. I WROTE THIS FOR YOU. I WROTE THIS FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU. EVERYONE ELSE WHO READS IT, DOESN’T GET IT. THEY MAY THINK THEY GET IT, BUT THEY DON’T. THIS IS THE SIGN YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. YOU WERE MEANT TO READ THESE WORDS.

My first thought was, “This author has grabbed my attention with only a title, leading me to reach for the book, flipping it over to read the description. Who is this genius?”

No author

Pages flip as my hold tightens. I come to rest on page 48, titled, The Place I Do Not Rest.

“Dress your heart and mind in what you love, fill your eyes with wonder and chase the things that inspire and delight you. For in you, is where I still live.”

“Mom, did you find something?”

Yes. I sure did.

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15 thoughts on “The Place I Do Not Rest

  1. Hi! I’m always so glad to read new writers I haven’t read before and I really enjoyed your essay. I like the way you took the time to settle us into your setting at the beginning. It made me miss bookstores which are (well, were before most disappeared in my town anyway) my happy place as well. All of it made me want to know more about your father, particularly your relationship with him. I feel like somehow introducing your father’s death early on in the piece and then explaining how you register the date later in the story is a little confusing. (I’m trying out this new thing where I provide my honest opinion instead of just stop by and spread sunshine everywhere because I kind of wish people would do that for me, even if I disagree, so forgive me if I seem a little brash here.) I completely related to being pulled toward an object, especially a book, and it was a great comfort to read that part. I also liked the way you spaced it out to allow the reader some room to breathe.

    • Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to leave such detailed feedback. I agree that it is better than just spreading sunshine everywhere, especially when the feedback comes from a fellow writer. Much appreciated!

  2. I am definitely a believer in signs, and wonder how many I missed through the years. Your picture at the top, for me, took away a little of the suspense, but only a little since I had no idea a book like that really existed.

  3. Ohhh, that’s how I feel every time I just randomly pick up a book at a bookstore. Often I spend too much time researching, these days and have lost that excitement of finding a book I just know I will love. Sorry it comes on the back of losing your father, though. Even if it was over two decades ago, I know that pain never goes away.

    • I hope you get back to finding books for the sheer pleasure of it. Research can be rewarding, but it doesn’t compare to those books that stay with you for days after you’ve turned the last page.

    • Ha! Yes! The kids and I made up a whole story (a mystery of course) while at the bookstore about us going to pay for it and the cashier not being able to find it in the system. Then telling us they didn’t sell that book and he had never seen it. LOL

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