Home Is Where They Have to Take You In — If They Notice You’re There

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

Reaching a goal, realizing a dream is like marking the edge of a circle. When you reach that moment where you check off the goal, it takes you back to the moment when you first conceived of it.

Yesterday I read and signed at Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. And it took me back. Back to visiting the Tattered Cover when it was one room at the bottom of the stairs in Cherry Creek. I went as a young girl with my mother. She loved it because she could describe a book without knowing the exact author or title and they could figure out which one she meant. I gazed around at the forest green carpets, wooden shelves and all the radiant books. Framed and signed photographs on the walls showed the authors who had visited. I wanted to be one of them.

As a college student visiting home, I bought a copy of Tao Te Ching there, a copy I still have. When they moved into the Neusteters building, the bookstore replaced the racks of dresses where I’d picked out my prom dress and my mom and aunt had shopped for most of their lives. Now Tattered Cover filled three stories, plus a bargain basement and a fourth floor restaurant. No trip to Denver was completed without a visit and I frequently left with armloads of books. Now the green carpets circled up the stairs and the author photos trailed alongside.

When my first book came out, what I wanted most was an event at Tattered Cover. But no one would ever answer me or my events coordinator. I even sent a list of 200 people who were likely to come to my hometown gig. But no. Wordsworth Books in Boston hosted me; Elliot Bay Books in Seattle offered me a gig. The bookstore of my youth did not. I knew them, but they did not know me.

Now the Cherry Creek location, too, is gone, and our reading yesterday was at one of the newer locations, in Lo Do (lower downtown). They have a great event space and the green carpets and wood railings on the stairs look the same. Our event for Going Green was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Land Library, who runs a monthly reading event at the store. Jeff Lee, the director of the library, was a gracious and charming host. Laura Pritchett, the editor, was lively and a terrific master of ceremonies. My co-contributors were fascinating and good company.
It was a fun afternoon.
But, aside from asking the harried woman at the counter — who first informed me her register was closed — where I should go for the reading, I never talked to anyone from the store. I’d brought a few copies of my book, so I could ask if they carried it, wanted stock signed, needed my copies. I never got the chance. Okay, I didn’t try any harder than that.
I suppose the circle is closed now. I gave that little girl I was something of what she wanted. Never mind that the bookstore never knew it.

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