Two days ago I had agreed to meet my daughter downtown for coffee and shopping. I was almost an hour early for my appointment, so I grabbed the opportunity to go to the library first. I always carry in my bag an endless list of books that I would love to read, and refer to it every time I visit the library or a bookstore. I started searching for some of the books that were on the list. I ended up borrowing eleven, mostly big hardcover books, and reluctantly walked out, wondering:
“When I step into this library, I cannot understand why I ever step out of it.” Marie de Sevigne
With a recyclable library bag in each hand I walked into the coffee shop where my daughter was already waiting for me. A surprised look appeared on her face, as she sat there pointing at my bags and shaking her head. “Mom!”
After I told her my story she asked, “Are you going shopping with those bags?”
“Yes, considering that it is only a handbag that I am looking for.”
“I can’t believe you,” she shook her head once again.
After coffee we walked toward Eaton Centre. The bags, together with our own handbags, were not that heavy, but they were not too light either. We looked around, went into a few shops, and then walked out and roamed the streets.
I noticed this woman walking in front of us. She had grayish-white hair, cut short. She was wearing a black and white striped skirt with a black top, and red high heeled shoes. She looked so tall and thin and chic.
“Look at her heels,” I told my daughter. “I admire such people who seem so natural wearing them. I can’t even walk properly in my flats.”
“Do you want to go in? They have a sale,” my daughter said, standing in front of a bookshop.
We went in, left our other bags at the counter and browsed around, and I bought some more books, filling up two plastic bags.
“Where do you want to go now?” asked my daughter.
“Home. I want to go home with my books,” I said.
“But you need to shop for a handbag, don’t you?”
When she saw that I was serious, she said. “Let me at least carry some of these bags to the metro for you.”
We got there just when the doors of the train were closing. Exhausted, I walked to the nearest bench and sat down, my daughter following suit.
“Mom, I don’t believe what you did. You were supposed to buy a handbag today.”
“I got what I love most. I hope they’re good though. You know, J.D. Salinger once wrote:
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
It’s okay. Call me crazy. I am still as crazy about books as I was when I was your age.”
She laughed. “Mom look, the woman!”
I looked around. On the bench next to ours was the same tall, thin, elegant woman we had seen before. On her lap was a plastic bag just like ours, out of which she had removed some books and was reading their back covers. I turned around and told my daughter,
“I am not alone, so stop making fun of me.”
Besides, wasn’t it Richard Bach who wrote:
“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.”