A Mundane Beginning
Stories from the Bookshop
A Mundane Beginning
I’m at my computer well before the bookshop comes to life for the day. Often, I’m in a coffee shop tap-tap-tapping away – as I am doing now. Whether in the shop or completing tasks for the shop, I find stories dropped before me like pennies on concrete, awaiting collection. I usually gather them up and toss them in a pile on my kitchen table immediately upon returning home, where they are kindly and patiently sorted through by my family. Though this routine is satisfying enough for me, these collected stories are too good to keep to myself. And so, I will begin laying these pennies out before you here in this blog of Stories from the Bookshop.
To begin this tradition, I’ll start with a mundane tale.
No doubt that statement has you on the edge of your seat already (I say with no sarcasm at all), but many of the stories may seem mundane. Yet, it’s the mundane ones that I have the hardest time releasing from constant mulling in my mind like grapes mashed and fermented into fine wine.
This morning, after having spilled tea on myself in the car and on the way from one failed attempt at planting myself in a coffee shop to a finally successful plantation, I saw a couple parked in a lot in downtown Lubbock. The woman was removing a collection of items from the back of her car while her partner sat mildly patient in the driver’s seat. A bowl, jug of water, and bag were balanced in the woman’s arms. Meanwhile, a pair of stray cats nimbly lept out of the storm drain and sat, patiently waiting for the woman to make her way to them and set up her offering.
The simple act of having made an effort to purchase items, gather them up, place them in a car, and make the drive to where a couple of city felines were known to make their permanent abode sparked a lens shift in my mind.
I saw other things as well along my trip down Broadway. I saw ornate architecture, abandoned buildings, acclaimed eateries, and crumbling structures. Yet, where something was defying the worn it had experienced through time, something else was standing proud or being made anew.
I am often asked, “Why Lubbock? Why did you open a bookshop here? Why downtown?” These questions tend to come with a charged undercurrent of confusion, which is fair. I didn’t grow up here. But I have lived here for over 13 years. At first, and for a long while, if I’m to be truthful, I dreamed and schemed of moving elsewhere. Life progressed, and I found myself with more and more reasons to stay until I looked up and was willing to admit that I had started to grow roots in this lethargic, sleep-dust-coated city-in-the-making. My inner voice fought back. How dare I stop dreaming?! How dare I settle?
Is someone settling when they decide to rub the sleep dust out of their eyes? Or are they free to see the dawn before them?
I settled into the idea that it was time to stop diverting energy into wanting to get out, whether there was true intent, and it was well past time to invest in where I was. If I wished Lubbock to become somewhere I wanted to be, I needed to do my part to make a little piece of it that way.
When folks walk into the little bookshop on Broadway and say, “It’s like I’m not even in Lubbock anymore!” – my response is, “Ah, but you are. This is Lubbock.” Lubbock is what we make it. Lubbock is what we are making it to be. This very un-abandoned corner of the High Plains is growing roots deeper than fiber crops and pulling nutrients from soil that once gave rise to world-renowned artists. These artists, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and doers have always been here, but we’re relearning how to accept them as our own instead of ignoring them until they prove their worthiness by another’s definition and welcoming them “back home”. We are starting to see the dust as fodder to make clay rather than a nuisance to be coughed and sputtered.
The couple in the car feeding the stray cats living downtown? I admire them for seeing life and making intentional efforts to sustain it so it thrives. I admire them for saying, “We don’t have to, but we want to. Thus, we will.” I admire them for investing in something many others may see as something to eradicate instead of thinking of solutions and taking action. Did you know there are organizations in Lubbock that catch and spay/neuter stray cats to help keep populations down? Did you know that while the term “organizations” sounds grand and vast, they consist of a single person or two?
The people of Lubbock have been investing in their roots for long before my sleepy eyes were willing to see, and I offer this little story of a few seconds from my morning as fodder to embracing the dust too.