It was a fine day towards the end of my junior year in college. My mother had come to town to collect the first of many carloads of the crap I somehow fit in my dorm room. I managed to convince her that I was in desperate need of a cookbook, and so we made our way to one of my favorite places on this earth. Books-A-Million. To be clear, I was not actually in dire need of this cookbook. I simply thought a cookbook that I could write my own recipes in would be a neat thing to possess. I said something about wanting to collect recipes of meals I could pack for lunch during my teaching internship the next year, and so we were off.
We entered the magical place and I immediately felt the draw towards the entire fiction section. However, my mother knew we were there for a cookbook, so she herded me towards the back aisle as I stared longingly at the books with dragons on the cover. Finally we reached the cookbook section and we scoured the entire place.
There were many, many failures. We looked past cookbooks for crockpots, cookbooks for people with diabetes, and even cookbooks for canines. There were cookbooks for various kinds of diets I’ve never heard of, and then there were cookbooks for the many delicious uses of butter. However, every single book was already written. I guess that is to be expected when you enter a bookstore.
Then, just as I was preparing to raise a white flag, my mother said words that I almost didn’t hear for the heavenly chorus that sounded. “Let’s try the journal sections.” My good people, I have been in Books-A-Million countless times. I had found myself in the aisles for fantasy, mystery, romance, and even the psychology section. But never before had I known of the corner dedicated alone to journals.
Once my precious mother led us there, I stood staring at the tall bookshelves in helpless wonder for what felt like years but was probably only five minutes. Sometime during my coma of exhilaration, I heard my mother next to me breathe “What have I done?”
I admit, she made a mistake enlightening me of the existence of this new kind of Narnia. I have developed over the last several years an obsession with journals. I can hardly keep myself from buying every journal I come get my hands on. There is just something about the clean, empty pages that call the creative being inside of me like a siren. I picture myself filling the pages with endless story ideas, quotes overheard in conversation, cure for yet unknown diseases.
I currently own six journals, five of which I have started writing in. They each have a specific purpose. This probably means that I will never fill them from cover to cover because when I say specific, I’m talking “the One Ring can only be destroyed by casting it back into the fiery chasm from whence it came” specific.
So, back to my drooling self as I stared in awe at the many leather bound books. I knew that I already owned one journal that did not yet have a purpose and that none of my other journals were anywhere near fulfillment. In short, I knew that if I bought another journal, it would likely become a new dust collector on my overflowing bookshelf. We found a cookbook with blank inserts and dividers and promptly left the bookstore, after paying of course, before I could lose my already slippery resolve.
But the knowledge of that place is still there in the back of my mind. It sings to me while I sleep, calling me back. I will not have the strength to refuse it’s call much longer.
How I would have told this story in person: I almost bought a journal one time… but I didn’t.