Monday, March 26, 2007

heart to heart

Dora stopped by yesterday, dancing into the shop and hugging the dogs in turn, and asking in her slightly bossy 8 year old way where each of the cats was. Cats were found, and patted, and she settled in Sara's armchair normally termed Champ's chair, but not when my friend Sara is listening; it is a lovely antique from her childhood and not suitable for pitbulls, probably. Except in my life, everything literally goes to the dogs, the cats, and the children.

Dora asked, quite seriously, "Do you have every book in the world here?" I assured her I did not, recalling my own encounter with a bookcloset at 8, and a teacher who snarled that I had read all the books in the world during my illicit moments of reading between lessons. I'm sure the horror of my belief that all the books in the world were in that closet--and what was the rest of my life going to be like?--shaped my path towards libraries and bookstores. I'm not sure what Dora's moments surrounded by the books in my store will end up doing for her.

At any rate, she wanted to read some poetry to the dogs. They were eager to listen. She checked through my poetry section and settled on Shel Silverstein as appropriate for canines. In between poems she chattered and confided.

And then she asked if I'd play Heart to Heart with her. It's not a game I knew, but she ran to her mom's car and produced a pack of cards with questions so we could take turns. "What is your favorite childhood memory?" She thought maybe we both should answer that. Hers was her 5th birthday, when there were bouncy-castles--five of them--and a cake that was made of icecream and her family was together. Mine was my 6th birthday, when the ship I'd traveled in docked in Japan and I saw my father for the first time in two years.

"You might have trouble with this one" she said "because, you know, you are old and you would need to remember back a long way probably". "Okay, what's the question?" "When was your first kiss?"
"Oh, I remember very well, Dora" I said, trying not to flinch at my increasingly dottery status. "It was a stage kiss, I was playing someone's wife. I was 16 or so, and we did end up girlfriend and boyfriend for a while". "Mine was when I was born, I think. I think my father kissed me on my head. He loved me."

"I'm sure he did". She has a very pretty smile that comes and goes like sunlight through clouds.

We found out each others favorite fairy tales: hers is Sleeping Beauty, mine was the 12 swans--a story she didn't know yet. She read some more poems to the dogs. She brought me her diary, in which the names of the boys she thinks are nice are written with hearts and flowers: Austin, and Gabriel, and Laurie. We tried hulahooping for a while.

My other customers were, as usual, tolerant--they have to be, because you never know if you are going to find people with hulahoops near the metaphysics books or a heavy political discussion or what when you enter this space.

And she dashed off again, her stepfather checking that all was well, her mother saying "she talks about this bookstore all the time at home". This time her book for home was on cats ("my favorite, favoritist animals of all, they are sooo cute"). I added a little blank book with roses on the cover--I usually have stacks around for my own writings, far too many to fill in the time I have. "I'll come back and show you all the stories I write!" she said.

Dora is lovely respite from some of my other visitors and their troubles, and from the crash of reality outside the bookstore walls. Today my partner waits in a congressman's office, where he has vowed to stay till he is arrested. Today a good friend who is keeping watch over his wife's long dying came to get some light reading, some escape.
The wife, Pat, is a poet whose life has been long and full and ebbs now, moment by moment, drop of morphine by drop of morphine.

The last note she sent, while she was still able to write, said "I watch the beautiful colors as they light the edges of the trees, as the sun goes down, as the night comes on."


Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Just whipsawed -- love, and the energy of children, and adult effort and pain, and dying lights.

I'll be back, of course, but wanted to let you know what you shared was beyond words wonderful, lump-in-my-throat feeling and all.

8:05 PM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Hi jarvenpa, hi lori--

You know, I don't know but what there might be some good philosophy to be extracted from that encounter! And it's funny how little people exploring the world on insufficient information manage to arouse our affection and give us little saluatory pangs of the heart...

All the sad world-brokenness at the end is prefigured in what she asks and your memories.


The Young Crones Club is in session.

7:44 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Kimia said...

Shel Silverstein used to be my favorite book. They would translate it quickly to Persian right after they released.
I wish you a very successfull and happy spring :)

11:00 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger David said...

I think that someday little Dora will look back on her memories of her visits to your bookstore with great happiness. :) A child's world is very small, from an adult's perspective, but the things in that world are very powerful influences on the person they will become. I am certain that Dora will never forget your friendship and kindness toward her!a

11:09 AM, March 31, 2007  
Blogger Jan said...

I've just popped by for the very 1st time and I'm sure I shall enjoy r very mucheturning.
Your writing floats...had me floating; I loved it and look forward very much to more.

10:24 AM, April 07, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

We have had an ice storm and snow and cold rain today, and I am wishing for a large purple crocheted semi-tea-ish item of the sort you described. My poor flowers are all shelled in ice.

12:46 PM, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Nyx said...

Pats words are truly beautiful (as is yours) Dora is a lucky child, to have a place like yours to come to. And a woman like you, to talk to.
Take care dear.

1:25 PM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger hopeful beirut said...

hey jarvenpa!
i've nominated your blog for the Thinking Blogger Award. You never cease to inspire me.
Check out my blog: for rules (basically you have to nominate 5 other blogs)

2:55 AM, April 25, 2007  

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