I am an outlier amongst my own gender.
A bookstore-aholic, I often find solace in the bookstores amongst the book and magazine racks and the cafes. Once inside, like a lion scoping its prey, my focus is automatic and efficient, stratigically directed to those areas of the store that give me instant gratification. Gods forbid anyone who is in my way.
I head first to the science magazine section and peruse my favored magazines, New Scientist, SEED and American Scientist. Scanning the covers, one or two seem to magically appear in one hand before I move on. The first two are unquestionably worth perusing, even though I subscribe to the first. Odd that; the current issue adorns the store racks sometimes days before mine arrives in my departmental mail box.
Next, on to the motorcycle magazines. This is a hunting activity for they are rarely grouped by category of bikes or riding. Considering the variety of publication releases, from monthly, bimonthly to quarterly, finding good reading material has become a game of hide-and-seek and "What's on the stand today?" or "Where the hell is it now?". This time, I chose a British bike rag on the advice of a fellow adventure rider:
"If you really want to learn about the bike world, read the European rags. Bikes and riding are a way of life there. Here, bikes are recreation and show."
He's right. The real 'meat' of riding motorcycles is in Europe and Asia. Bikes and scooters are often the sole transportation of many people there. Riding for sport and pleasure is a close second. It's a very different perspective and grasp of being mobile there. It makes me wish I could live and move amongst them.
After plucking one, two motocycle magazines, I turn on my heel and head out of the magazine racks, glancing at the woodworking and homebuilding rags. Ah, the latest issue of Fine Homebuilding. Instantly plucking that issue, I round the corner and head into the cafe. Nodding a "Hello" at the clerk behind the counter and finding a table near the windows, I stack the magazines in the order of interest for the evening: homebuilding at the bottom, two science rags, a Texas riding issue, and the British bike rag on top. After spending an entire day entrenched in science, including reading papers on the train home, I crave a brief respite.
Returning to my table with a sandwich and a tall ice tea, I eat slowly and look around me. Two tables are occupied by women: two girls of college freshman age at one, two middle-aged women at the other. The two younger girls are chit chatting, leafing through celebrity rags with pictures of glamor men and women adorning the slick colored pages. They appear to be critiquing them judging from their fingers pointing at the figures on pages. I reminds me of the plastic paper people with stick-on and take-off clothes that kids play with.
The two older women are reading Cosmos, Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. Pages filled with "How to lose that fat butt in 6 days" or "How to keep the sex alive in your marriage", interspersed with magical decorations for home, husband and family. Here, cut this out and hang it on your wall and your life will be fulfilled and happy. All this interspersed with an hour-long discussion on what color to paint the dining room, who to hire to mow the lawn, and "Oh, by the way, did you hear about Isabel......"
I can't help but notice that I'm shaking my head, not understanding how such things can captivate their attention and time and grateful that my life is empty of similar occupations that could be better utilized contemplating Stephen Hawking's recent proclamation of multi-universes and reality existing in the eye's of the beholder. Or the many roads I want to travel on my bike.
I look down at my own table and I see magazines that reflect a very different pool of interest and past time than these other women. And I wonder how I ended up so different from others of my own gender. Yet quite satisfied with who I am.
In the line to pay, an older black man behind me strikes up a conversation:
"You know, in a moment, this moment will be gone. Forever gone."
After a moment's thought, I reply "Yes, but then there will be a new moment to replace the one that is gone."
[nodding] "Mmhmm.... That is right. And then another moment will replace that one, too."
"Yes, and then another and another. And all those moments replaced will be memories."
"Yessah, and some of those memories may stay, some may be lost. "
"Very true. And new ones will appear to replace those lost."
"Mmmhmm. Now I wonder if you will remember this conversation after several moments."
Smiling broadly, I reply, "Yes, sir. I will remember this conversation in several moments and for many more after that. And remember this: 'No matter where you go, there you are'."
"Hmm... yes, I like that. Well, young lady, you have yourself a good evening. Yes, I like that...."
Now where else can you go and talk metaphysics to strangers but in a bookstore?