The things I want to know are in books;
my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.
~ Abraham Lincoln
In the shadow of my impending departure to a graduate program in Who Knows Where, Arkansas, I've been skulking around the bookstore imprinting details in my memory. It's difficult to skulk in Eagle Harbor Books, per se, because our century-old wooden floor, when stepped upon in the wrong place, makes noises like a water buffalo giving birth. However, over the agonized creaking, I recently heard a customer on the other side of a shelf say "Oh, I love this bookstore. It always has the weirdest books."
It's true: we do. I've lost count of the times I have grabbed a book to shelve, spotted the title, raised my eyebrows in fascination, and cracked it open to take a look. In my time here, I have amassed a couple shelves' worth of such wonderfully odd titles as When to Rob a Bank, The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded, and Thug Kitchen.
I was born and raised on Bainbridge, and I didn't realize the extent of our bookstore's glorious weirdness until I left home for college. I found no bookstore in my travels that could really match ours.
Where else could I find a display artist like our own remarkable Charysse, who spent three days crafting the full-sized dress out of book pages, with flounced skirts and a woven bodice, that graced our front window on a mannequin?
Where else could I find coworkers like that dedicated master of impertinence, Ann Combs, who takes significant chunks of time to teach me the lyrics to "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and other unsavory songs to repeat to my new grad school friends? Not to mention John, who snorts with delight over a good joke, and Susan, who has read approximately every mystery in existence?
Where else could I find someone like Victoria, who single-handedly manages to pull in authors from all over the nation to speak at our little store?
Where else could I find supervisors willing to tolerate me spending seven hours on a whiteboard notice because I wanted to master dry-erase pointillism? Where else can I find a big black dog that lumbers into the bookstore on a near-daily basis, letting out a gleeful urf and stationing herself next to the Dog Treat Jar? Where else can I hear the lovely live strains of Irish folk singing that drift out of Receiving, as if we were haunted by a melodious and otherwise scrupulously polite phantom?
While I know that Arkansas has its charms, it certainly doesn't have Eagle Harbor Books. So do me a favor and love the bookstore for me while I'm gone. If, when I return, I find that Eagle Harbor Books has lost even an iota of its magnificent weirdness, I will be terribly disappointed.
And be sure: I will be back.
Lots of love,