Romance in the Pages

There’s something incredibly romantic about books. Don’t ask me why, but ever since I was little, my biological programming has geared me to look for romance within the pages of a book. You’d find this said book at a vintage neighborhood bookstore, which because if its vast collection of novels, may be one of the most romantic places on Earth. I don’t mean romantic as “sensual” or “lovey-dovey”, but the You’ve Got Mail romantic. The sweater-wrapped-around-you-and-your-favorite-book romantic. The Harry Nilsson- Remember Christmas romantic. The NYC-mid-December romantic. The kind of romance that warms not only the heart, but the soul as well.

A bookstore, in my eyes, is the Garden of Eden of creativity, imagination, and magic. It plants seeds of thought and imagination in a person’s mind, whether young or old, and creates a place that generation after generation can come back to and reap its fruit. The peacefulness resides in the people that come, not to watch TV or talk on the phone, but to read. As a plus, there always seems to be a coffee shop conveniently located nearby, which can easily turn a quick trip to the bookstore into a half-day retreat from reality. So my challenge for you today is 2. Venture to your nearest bookstore and lose yourself. Lose yourself in the surreality that every one of the books in that place tells a unique story, and takes you on a different adventure. The Guide to Italy in the Culture section will persuade you to buy a round trip ticket to Roma solely for an authentic margarita pizza and true Italian wine. After reading a few surahs from the Qur’an, you’ll come to realize that you actually knew very little about Islam, and become intrigued as to how many aspects of the religion are similar to Christianity. A mere chapter from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone brings the teenybopper out of you as you’re instantly reminded of braces, school buses, and the time when all you had to worry about was whether or not Harry was ever going to defeat Voldemort. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch will take you back even farther than that, when you couldn’t fall asleep without hearing your mother read to you. There’s comfort in that books are one of the few things that truly stay consistent in our lives. Whether it’s Everybody Poops or Comparative Anatomy & Physiology, the underlying motive is always the same: Take home the take home message. Form an opinion. Learn something new. Once you finish a book, you’re always a different person from when you first started it. So trudge on over to that hole-in-the-wall bookstore across the street, spark your imagination, meet someone new, pick up a book, finish it, and don’t forget to grab a cup o’ joe along the way.

My dream book shelf. Or should I say, book wall.

My dream book shelf. Or should I say, book wall.

The bookstore that started it all, The Shop Around The Corner.

The bookstore that started it all, The Shop Around The Corner.

Love & Limits

With the holidays come and gone, I’m feeling rather nostalgic. Especially since this was the first December that I’ve been separated from my family and the bitter cold, yet oddly comforting, MN winter. Although I came home for a brief week leading up to Christmas, it wasn’t nearly long enough. Having to fly back on Christmas didn’t help. Nonetheless, you don’t really realize how much your loved ones mean to you until they’re unavailable during a time of need.

As sung by the great Christmas musicians like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and of course Mariah Carey, the epitome of the holiday season is love. No love, makes for a sad Dan Fogelberg (though melancholy, Same Old Lang Syne remains one of my favorite Christmas songs to date). As my first addition to The Infinity List, I had to make it a grand one, and it all revolves around a seemingly simple idea: I have loved and been loved, unconditionally, relentlessly, and compassionately. Yet never regrettably. I’ve fallen in love so hard that whenever I dreamed about losing that person, I woke up in tears, exasperated. I’ve loved my family so much that when I left them to move to Miami, I cried from the moment I left and periodically for months afterwards. I’ve loved so deep that I was willing to remain committed to that person, despite constantly being separated by miles upon miles of land and water. I’ve loved so honestly that I can look into the eyes of that friend and tell them the brutal truth, whether they want to hear it or not. I’ve been loved in such a manner that I’m willing to take their advice and trust that these changes I can make towards my life will be beneficial, and to act upon them. I’ve been loved so compassionately that the mere thought of him springs a smile on my face and makes my heart stumble.

Though painful at times, without love I would have nothing. I literally mean, nothing. Love has opened doors for me that I once thought were nonexistent. It’s strung me up and kept me from breaking into small pieces and falling through the cracks. When I’ve been at my lowest of lows, it was ultimately love that beckoned me back into the light. Love is the reason that I am where I am today, and I could not be happier. Yesterday (Christmas Day), when we arrived back to our gray apartment and empty fridge, I instantly felt homesick to the point of tears. I couldn’t help thinking that the aura of home is missing from this place, it was all very unfamiliar. Until I had an epiphany: love is what has brought me here. It wasn’t until this fleeting moment when I felt entirely alone with my feelings that I had realized this. Love will take you numerous places, as long as you allow it to. Never take advantage of it, and 1. Linger every once in a while on the fact that you are loved. You’ll be amazed at what that thought will do for your attitude, and your life.

Happy Holidays! Spreading the love, A&E.

Happy Holidays! Spreading the love, A&E.