Sunday, August 17, 2008


When I get frustrated with the world and just want to check out of life for a while, my favorite get-away is Barnes & Noble. There are many forms of retail therapy: clothes shopping, shoe shopping, purse shopping, decor shopping, furniture shopping, make up/skin care shopping, jewelry shopping, gifty shopping, and on and on.

But for me, Barnes & Noble encompasses it all. Magazines, books, movies, games, cd's and various other mediums allow me to shop in a finite space for infinite product. Where else could I compare cars, take two steps and compare hair styles?

I can drift endlessly through the aisles of books. Some books make me realize my life is really not that bad when I compare myself to the characters. Some books make me feel like I have not even scratched the surface of my potential.

But the books I love the most are the ones that let me drift into a whole other world, where I get to be someone else in another time, another place. I can be young, or the matriarchal great-grandmother. I can be a foreign royalty or a simple girl from the farm. But my imagination takes me away.

I don't worry about laundry, about when hubby is in or out of town, what's for dinner, if the dog has been outside. It's my own little "Calgon" commercial, complete with Starbucks coffee.

If I could choose ANY get-away, I would choose to be on a massage table, with a pair of very able hands working out the knots and tension in my back. I have mastered the art of relaxing my body until it feels like it is literally oozing into the table.

But walking through Barnes & Noble is absolutely free. Massage therapy is not.

Both are escapes.

Just talking about wanting to "escape" makes me feel a little guilty. Look at all I have, how blessed I am! Who would want to "escape" my life? Sadly, me. Not all the time. Not most of the time. Just some times- when the money gets tight at the end of the month. When the kids are in particularly crabby, nasty moods. When no one likes what I fix for dinner. When I can't get two minutes alone to go to the bathroom without children screaming for an arbitrator for their latest argument.

I just need to breathe. Just for a little while.

I spend so much of my life trying to be "in control," even when I feel angry or sad enough to warrant crying, I usually can't cry. When I was young I cried over Kodak commercials. Now I've made it through Keith's first week of middle school, first middle school football game, first middle school dance, hubby's lack of participation in all such events (for lack of any nicer way to put it) and the exhaustion of life with not even the first tear tracing down my cheek.

I don't exercise. I would like to. But there never seems to be time. And when there is time, there is frankly no desire. Who wants to huff and puff and get sweaty?

I've had to give up my long-time friend and companion: food. Especially since I don't exercise, it has become imperative that I find another vice besides anything that adds calories to my day. And I don't have the money for any truly expensive habits- good, bad or otherwise.

So I turn to the escapism of Barnes & Noble. I breathe in its unique smell as I walk into the automatically heated/cooled space. I've been there enough that the sales people smile and nod in recognition. Then I wander aimlessly from shelf to shelf, picking up books with pretty pictures or interesting titles, and reading the back jacket. I carry a stack of interesting books around with me until it's time to leave.

Then I sort through my new friends, keeping some, putting back others. I re-read the jacket, look at information about the author, then, savoring all that's left, select just one. The rest will wait for the next visit.

I'll wag the book around with me in the car while dropping off and picking up kids, through the sitting at lessons, during the night when hubby watches unappealing television. I'll loose myself in its pages, catapulted into another place and time.

When I finish the last paragraphs, I sigh contented. It is a bittersweet thing to finish a book. I have to say goodbye to this new friend. But tomorrow, I'll be back at Barnes & Noble to meet another new friend, so I can escape once again...

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

Ohhhh - isn't Barnes & Noble dreamy?? I love it . Meet there Wednesday? LOL