Thursday, December 6, 2012

a particular fantasy

This is the side that faces visitors to my home. On the other side there are more shelves filled with books. On the other side is my sleeping corner. The postcards on display are from the Griffin and Sabine postcard collection that I bought way back in the 1990s. It's a pity to keep them hidden in a box so I put them up. They also inspire me in my art-making.
For almost two weeks now I have been beset by one particular fantasy. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that I have been on a very strict budget because of my adamant pursuit of happiness and satisfaction in my work. Unfortunately such kind of work does not always come hand-in-hand with a satisfactory amount of money. Maybe it will, at some point, but right now they do not share the same sphere in my life. Hence, I cannot indulge in my usual book-shopping.

I have re-learned to live without a lot of things since I simplified my lifestyle to afford my journey of true paths. I have whittled down my wants and needs to the essentials, and one of those is books.

I could easily find torrents of e-books online but I find that nothing fulfills me as much as a bound volume of paper in my hands, with the scent of ink lingering on my fingertips.

For the past two weeks, especially since I finished writing my novel and while I am currently editing it, my hunger for books to read has been sharper than ever. It is like the writing had consumed so much "word energy" that I desperately need to replenish it. I crave for more stories, I yearn to meet more heroines and the men who torment their hearts, I long for the fairy tale endings that are such a comfort after hundreds of pages of almost losing hope that things will turn out well.

I have this particular fantasy of dressing up. I would be wearing a favorite long skirt, a perfectly complementing top, a pair of comfortable shoes that add twist to the whole ensemble. My hair would be behaving perfectly, cascading in soft waves down my back. I would be wearing my favorite spider turquoise bracelets layered with my pair of bracelets from India (for luck). Maybe my butterfly earrings. Or the tea and cupcake pair. My bag slung over my shoulder carrying my simple survival kit that includes a journal notebook and an inked fountain pen.

I enter the bookstore, slowing down at the entrance enough to take a deep breath like what I usually do when I enter libraries. My eyes scan the New Arrivals, the Special Discounts, the Bestsellers. But I know what I want. I weave through the many shelves to find the sections where countless joys await me. The classics, poetry, fantasy, contemporary fiction, literary fiction. I am drawn to stories with magic. Once in a while I would venture into food and travel. But I linger longest in fantasy, crashing through age lines, picking from children's as well as from young adults's. But how I wish for adult fantasy that retains the sweetness and wonder and magic of the young adults's. (Maybe that is why I am attempting to write one now.)

I run my fingers across the clean straight spines. I delight in feeling the embossed letters and images beneath my fingertips, like tracing a tattoo on someone's skin. I like the books with unevenly cut pages. I risk paper cuts on my own skin by sliding my thumb down the rough thick press of pages.

I pull a book out and open it randomly. I caress the paper, then slowly bring it up to my face so I could steal a breath of ink and pulp. My eyes play on the fonts. I like fonts that are well-spaced, not too cramped, and not too default. I like books that have been printed with care and consideration. Good paper, just the right thickness and weight and with that charming aged tinge. There are types of paper that you just know will age so beautifully. I check the solidity of the spine. Few things are more disappointing than a new book that falls apart, especially in your hands, while you're still reading it. It should be able to stand the abuse of being rolled over in bed, stuffed beneath the pillows, or slept over for hours in awkward positions.

I have a growing pile of chosen volumes beside me, as I sit on the floor, between rows and rows of books waiting for consideration. My long skirt is like a sacred circle marking my space in front of a shelf. Other people walk around me, dare not to disturb me.

I have lost track of time. Time is of no consequence. I am immersed in silent conversations, weighing promises and judging covers. My heart beats fast. It is in a constant state of agitation, of anticipation, of expectation. My fingertips are cold. They tremble with excitement at the thought of plunging into all those worlds. Of repeating the same journeys but always living through each one as if it were the first time. Of meeting every possible version of the same man who will break my heart just as he would break the heroine's heart. Of suspending my belief long enough to take me through the breathtaking climax of a happily ever after.

I expel a deep sigh that carried within its weight the litany of prayers that continue to prove my faith in fairy tales. I take my pile of books, my pile of dreams, to the counter. I become thousands of pesos poorer, possibly sacrificing the week's groceries and I would have to survive on crackers and jam on some days. But in exchange I gain days of sanity and hope as I balance along the edge of a long leap into the void.

One day, fueled and inspired by all those stories, I will finish editing my novel. I say by early next year. One day, I will be brave enough again to make one story that I will do instead of reading or writing it.

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