Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe.
I walked inside and was immediately greeted with the scent of java and vanilla, no doubt from the leftover pastries of the day. It was nearly 9 PM in Asheville, and the shop was beginning its turndown. It's far too cold outside for my Miami blood, so I browse the stores eclectic trinkets. The funny magnets with sassy quotes and monkeys. Why always with the monkeys? I guess I laugh every time.
I walk over and play with the stationary. It's a bit too expensive but the design is quite beautiful. I look down at my phone, 9:15 PM. Still have time. We're waiting on my boyfriend's dad and even though it's getting late, I don't mind. I walk over to the nearest book shelf, autobiographies. Never been one for nonfiction, but what the hell, I've got time to kill. I recognize the striking features on Anjelica Huston's autobiography cover. She really was the perfect Mrs. Adams.
Page 1: Interesting, interesting, name drop, name drop, back stage tidbit. I scan through it relatively fast until I get to a paragraph. She walks into her mother's room and sits at her armoire. She carefully touches her expensive jewelry and puts on her mother's makeup. She stares at herself, not with vanity, but curiosity. She knows someday she'll be important and people will stare at her, much the same way she is at the moment.
I agree, and yet I do imagine there was some sense of indulgence. I think it happens to most little girls, especially the curious and hungry ones. I too snuck into my mother's room and played with her jewelry, putting far too much of her expensive makeup on. I wanted to see someone older and sophisticated, but I only saw a small girl with fuchsia cheeks and dark red lipstick. I hoped beyond anything that one day the atoms that together made my face would arrange themselves in a way people would find beautiful. I dreamed of having a face people would one day stare at. It was more hoping than feasting, but it all comes from the same place. Desire. Our desire to be desired.
I knew even then as a young girl that I wanted that. All the characters in my short stories or novels where never focused on beauty, and yet they embraced this carnal yearning. On some level, I still did. I can't tell anymore if we're taught to want that, or taught to be ashamed of it. As I grew older, I wanted more than beauty, I wanted power. I wanted confidence in my talents. I wanted to write narrative that could make people step outside their head and recognize the deepest places we all have in common. And yet, there will still always exist this petite, dough-eyed child with too much makeup staring breathlessly at a mirror, hoping one day she could be revered for beauty.
"Baby?" I snap the book shut. "My dad's here."
It's time to go and have some beer. An ordinary, transient stop at a book store and now my carnal desires are top of mind, sittin' shot gun on my prefrontal cortex. If only I had some more time, but maybe this was enough. A shot of creativity, the shot that re-ignited my long lost love for writing. The fateful stop that'd eventually inspire this series, and of course, the ending of my first novel.