Monday, May 7, 2012


A friend of mine owns the best bookstore in the world. It's nestled in the heart of Pike Place Market. It is her passion and her art. She's got impeccable taste in books and an excitement for literature and reading that shames even the most voracious of us. Her free time is spent culling thrift stores, book sales, private collections and library cast-offs for just the perfect products to line her shelves. Customers in her store are treated to personal and perceptive service. I like to sit on her park bench by the door and listen to her while she listens to her customers:

"I'm looking for a book for my uncle."
"What does he like to read?"
"I'm not really sure. He likes history."

She will start from this maddening introduction and gently prod and chat until she has determined the perfect book for the uncle. A radiant customer leaves with their package and the knowledge that they have selected a unique and meaningful gift. Usually they leave with a tiny crush on this spirited and intelligent proprietress as well. I have more than a tiny crush on her, myself, and I am wise to her ways.

She was my first friend in a new city. When I met her, I had a toddler and a newborn and a quiet desperation. I don't make friends easily. I get bored with people, irritated with their children, lost in my own thoughts and bogged down in insecurity. She ignored all that, invited herself over for lunch and asked me "What are you reading right now?" Almost every conversation with her starts like that, even now. It's a gauge we use to see where we are in our lives when we haven't seen each other in a while. 

We got together for the first time in months over the weekend. She brought me a copy of Infinite Jest that she found. I gave her a stack of cookbooks for her store. Our girls took off and picked up right where they left off; where they've been leaving off and picking up since they were less than three years old. She is reading Japanese magical realism in her native Italian. I am reading a stack of books on writing. 

"Finally," she said. "I have been waiting for you to write this." She waded right through my neurosis, my effusive explanations, my insecurity and said "Finally." I have been mulling over the roles people play in our lives, what draws us to one another and what repels us. I have been spent the last several weeks recalling and reliving a whole hodgepodge of emotions long buried or forgotten. It is sometimes daunting work, but compelling and motivating, too. I think of this friend, this person dropped into my life when I feared I was nothing more than a milk dispenser, diaper changer, and a target for bodily fluids. She embraced that mess and asked me "What are you reading?" to remind me of the parts of me that were all my own - my intellect, my imagination, my thirst for the written word - and helped me carry on, firmer in my understanding and appreciation of myself.

And now, when I have a different sort of newborn I'm tending, when I'm still fraught with insecurity, overwhelmed and daunted by my undertaking, she has done it again. "Finally," she said. "I have been waiting for you to write this."


  1. What a tribute! She certainly seems like a woman worth knowing, as do you. xoxo Is't it incredible, what we learn from and about each other by the books on our coffee tables and night stands?
    How nice that she cut through your fluid-ridden mommy months and that you're still in touch. I love that. Please do keep writing Even when I can't comment for some silly reason, or when I have to read a bunch at once instead of every day like I'd like to, I love to soak you up. Be well!!

  2. (: She sounds amazing.

    Will we someday know what she was waiting for you to write?

  3. 1. I so wish I was closer to this fab ladies bookshop, it sounds amazing (mini sulk that there is nothing similar closer to home!)
    2. I can't wait to get a taste of this project of yours, if it is anything like your blog posts....
    3. I also have a friend like this, who reminds me of who I am and not just a mother, daughter or wife. Someone that keeps me grounded. They are a blessing!

    Thanks for sharing and keep writing!!!

  4. This is what good friends are for, the kind you know for a long time and the kind you meet and just love instantly: to tell you that what you are doing is what they have been waiting for. Because it is. :)

  5. The map store near Pike Place is neat. I believe it was Metsker Maps, one of my favorite places that I visited in Seattle.

  6. These are the kinds of friends that make life just awesome. I have a couple of those. They (sometimes not so) gently ask the question that slices right through me and just when I feel like I've been bared for the world to see, they stand me up, hold up a mirror, and say "See? This is the you I've been waiting for you to show everyone else."

  7. Oh what a precious gift. How beautifully you have captured it. I needed it to. I realize now all new mothers do--to be reminded of the parts of us that are our own, as you say.

  8. What a beautiful tribute. Reading it has me appreciating my friends and looking forward to the day ahead.

  9. I think about that too, sometimes. How some people seem to come into (or back into) our lives at just the right time, with just the right message. Makes me think of the Celestine Prophecy. Wonder what message meeting you is supposed to give me...

  10. I am on one of my catch-up binges around our little corner of the internet, so I read this post fairly soon after the house post which is probably why it occurred to me that friends like this are one of the ways we feel more at home in the world.


Thanks for reading and taking the time to say hello!