The Bookloft, Theft and Pretty Red-Heads
I went to the Bookloft in the German Village section of Columbus. It’s the Brewery District, really, old brick factories and warehouses with their walls like they would fall over if you had a running start. It’s a sharp old neighborhood, successful at keeping out modernities like asphalt streets and house siding everything old clay bricks stamped with the factory they came from, real dedication to nostalgia and quaint peace.
But the Bookloft, yes, 32 rooms wall to wall bookshelves, bookshelves even in the spaces beneath the stairs. It’s a house turned bookstore and they use every inch, even books in the garden. It’s a cramped place, especially looking through stacks in walk-in closets, the rooms for the most part not too big and each room dedicated to a different genre. Signs are posted and dangle from the ceiling telling you where you are and where everything is. I found myself surprised the Federal Government didn’t come in and shut the place down as a fire hazard, it’s tough to find your away around and I tried giving a guy directions to the door. Of course the first person I see is one of the old women from the writing group I had come from, the one who wrote ‘No Sex In St.Tropez‘. Old ladies and sex. She doesn’t know I linked to her book and I’m almost excited to tell her about it next week.
Funny seeing you here, I said to her. She turned around surprised and started talking that her and her friends always came by. ‘Oh cool. Well I’m going to get myself lost for a few hours, have a nice day’ and I hopped up the stairs real quick because I didn’t want to get caught in a conversation and old people tend to drole. I got bored quick wandering around and not finding what I was looking for, actual works of literature and not the commercial fictions on the best-sellers’ racks, and anything philosophy. I wanted the old leather bounds, the yellowed paperbacks that smell like dusty old libraries when you flip the pages. Too much new and plastic coated. To replace honest nostalgia corny ’50’s music played in every room, inescapable pop-jingles your grandfather sings and the smell of cinnamon candles was everywhere. I was losing interest getting bored when finally I found the American Classics, began thumbing through fresh-printed copies of Hemingway and Twain. The wall behind me was gay and lesbian literature and I saw walk over what I supposed were mother and daughter. I was sitting on a foot stool reading Kerouac and these two came over, began browsing the shelves behind me and the older one said ‘Five seconds here and I learn more about you than I ever did.’ An awkward conversation would start like that and I wanted to think of other awkward conversations it could lead to (We’ll get back to this sometime) but Dharma Bums really had me. I got up and walked around a bit more, waited till no one was around and tucked Kerouac’s Dharma Bums into my jeans and tightened my belt so it wouldn’t slip. Then I went back downstairs, got my bag from the register because you aren’t allowed to bring bags in for security reasons, and got back to the street.
It was hot out with still a few hours to kill before the next writers’ meeting which was in an old winery. I found a deli/cafe, can’t remember the name though I should’ve gotten it and it had some tables outside in the shade. The outdoor tables were all empty save for a very pretty red haired girl who sat at the far end, hair held up in a clip reminding so strongly of a face I can’t find the name for. I thought immediately of taking the table next to hers, always trying to position myself where possibilities are most plentiful but this would have me right in front of the window and I didn’t think the owners would let people use the tables without buying anything. I had to save my last $2 for the bus ride back so I took a table at the opposite end from her where I wouldn’t be seen by those inside. I thought of asking her if the owners got mad at people sitting and not buying anything but I didn’t and when she went inside I felt bad I’d missed my chance. But I never saw her come back out, and it’s a very lovely place to sit and write. I’m sure I’ll go back.
Last week I’d missed the writing group that I’d been going to, The Columbus Creative Co-op because I had no bus fare but I managed to find a group a bit closer. I went expecting to meet some ‘contemporaries’ and found the median age to be 55, though they were glad to have someone who could finally get up to turn off the ceiling fan. The first week I went there was a girl about my age, my generation at least who was a chubby dyke in leather jacket with a penchant for the pretentious stories of self-trouble, because no one has problems worse than yours, right? but still she was friendly and her writing wasn’t all that bad. She wasn’t there this week. Just me and the Golden Oldies who are a lively and joyful bunch at that, with lots of experience all of them published and knowing the in’s and out’s, as well as the connections of the traditional routes. And they were happy I’d brought something to read and they seemed to enjoy it, The Summertime Ice-cream Girl and it was the first time I’d shared that story. Quite accidentally though I signed myself up to read a short story by a dead man who never published, to read for a book on tape sort of thing. I owe the group something so I don’t mind doing it, won’t take long either, and I just read the story, I enjoyed it and can definitely learn a thing or two, posthumously of course, from this guy. That was my day.