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Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Most Crowded I've Seen A Bookstore

I went to an event yesterday in Burnaby, to see Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi speak. I didn't get books signed, so as I was waiting for some friends to finish work, I sat in the poetry section and read, and then felt the need to write and so I thought I'd share, as that's what this blog is for, right? Not sure if this is gonna make sense, but I thought I'd talk about how I felt today when a place I'd consider a safe space for myself was so crowded I could hardly breathe.


I'm sitting in Chapters right now, the place busier than I have ever seen a bookstore, filled with young girls who just finished listening to Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi speak and now waiting to get their books signed. It's strange, being in my safe space with so many people my age, with the same likes as me, meeting one of my favourite authors and another I admire like crazy. I decided to not get my books signed today, as I wasn't too sure how I'd handle the huge crowd, so instead I stood in the back with my vertically challenged height of 5'2", listening to these two brilliant women speak about their work, about female characters, about Gilmore Girls. Turns out, escaping the crowd wasn't really an option unless I just didn't come. 

It's an intense feeling, being in a room filled with products of my passion of writing, the sound of the voices of two successful writers in my ears and hundreds of people all listening, all adoring, all hearts beating. The talk is finished now and people are still milling as I sit and wait for my friends. Squeals of joy and agreement about books can be heard and the term fangirl can hardly describe some of these people. I'm overwhelmed once again with that feeling that I am just one in a mass of collective love and interest in this art, yet with all of these people, I feel disconnected from the thing I love most: books, even when I am surrounded by them.  It saddens me, as I read the words of Plath and Dickinson and Emerson, that I don't feel like myself in the place I usually feel safest, a store that sells stories to read and to love. 

There are so. many. people. I need to remind myself it's normal for me to not do well in situations like this, to breathe, to breathe, to breathe. All of this energy in a store that is not normally so bustling with bodies is incredible, but I'll be honest, I feel intruded upon. There's not an aisle that doesn't have someone in it, or two, or five, and there's people sitting everywhere, blocking the shelves, blocking the books. I feel like I'm intruding upon their space as well, which takes away the joy that usually comes with visiting Chapters and instead replaces it with panic. 

I need to remind myself that the fact that there are hundreds of people in a bookstore at once is brilliant because it means the love of literature is alive and that book sales continue and that people are reading even after they finished The Fault in Our Stars. I feel so lucky to live in a place where everyone is given the opportunity to read and to have such a huge selection of material, but it's also scary, seeing this type of space that is usually not so crowded, filled. 

I don't know if that made any sense, but it's what I wrote as I was sitting, trying to take in all of the energy around me in a store that is usually quite calm. Have you ever felt like your 'safe space' was being 'invaded' upon, even if it was a public place and it's not like it's yours to begin with? How do you handle that? Cause for me, curling up and hiding in the poetry section seemed to work. Bookstores, no matter which one, have always been a constant for me, somewhere I know I can slip inside if I'm feeling panicky or not well and all will be better. But yesterday was different and I was so conflicted as to how I felt, because on one hand, I was so excited to see so many people there, all with that same love of books, or at least of Divergent (and/or Shatter Me). But on the other hand, I felt suffocated, squished, trapped. Not a feeling one should have in a safe space. Maybe it's stupid of me to think all bookstores hold that security for me, but they do. A place filled with words and stories is where I feel most comfortable, but having that feeling taken away was strange and scary. If you've ever had an experience like that and would like to share, feel free so that I don't feel like an irrational idiot? Because don't get me wrong, I loved seeing so many people excited about books. 

Any thoughts on this? I'm trying to open this blog up a bit more to personal stuff, especially when it has to do with books and/or writing, so that's why I thought I'd talk about this today. Hopefully I'll be returning with normal, scheduled posts soon!

Happy reading!


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