I greet them like friends, a touch here, a nod to the next one - each story added something to my being. I meander through the book store - at first a bit self-consciously, but soon I am lost in a world of possibility at my fingertips. There is a quiet I haven't felt in months, as I read the back covers and explore fiction, travel, food, women's studies, contemporary issues, politics, history. All of my interests lie in front of me, waiting to be picked up, waiting to have the pages turned, a few lines read, the author's ideas offered to me in a compact way that does not do justice to the process that lead to this book. I see my current self, and the self I want to be reflected in all these pages. Places I have not visited, feelings I have not had, ideas I have not yet discovered are all laid out, waiting for someone - me - to select them, become engrossed by them, and to add this newness to the views that form my own. It's more than escape, to select and read these books - they offer vantages I may never have on my own. It allows me comparison to my ideas and emotions, to determine if these in fact are notions I want to hold on to or let go of.
In addition to knowledge, entertainment, and peace, reading brings empathy to my life. Because of my time spent in book stores and pouring over fiction and non-fiction - both equally important, I believe - I am granted the super power of interest in the world and in other people. To without this curiosity is not living - it is biding your time until you no longer need to make excuses for not seeking out more in the world we occupy. My love of reading is my greatest joy and my most prized trait. It is what I hold most dear, as my shelves pile past capacity, as I stare at a stack of about to be purchased books, as I pay my monthly student loan debt.
I walk through the store, recognizing books I've already read and enjoyed, and I seek out a few new ones. I pay the cashier with the bull-ring through his nose, who slips a book mark into my new book, and hands me the familiar white bag, and I walk out onto the evening-draped Connecticut Avenue, and I go home.