Thursday, August 14, 2008
Seattle Travelogue Part One: Bookish
Like so many kids, I tended to fantasize about being locked in forbidden places at night: museums, libraries, department stores, amusement parks. (Also fun but infinitely scarier: churches, cemeteries, tombs, abandoned castles. There was a lot of that in my beloved Bellairs books.) I think a big part of the fantasy, besides having all that sudden power and autonomy to go exactly where you wanted without the interference of grown-ups, was the idea of inspecting everything at your leisure, of reading books until morning or sleeping under a brontosaurus fossil or playing dress-up with Kim Catrall. (Oh, wait.)
Now, even as a bona-fide grown-up who can mostly go where I want when I want, I fantasize about being locked in Elliot Bay Book Company for a night or two.
I mean, working through 150,000 titles will take some all-nighters. Besides the staggering selection, the space is both expansive and cozy, full of high ceilings and brick and steep slatted staircases that lead to warrens of book-filled rooms. (Note to child-self: lots of ideal places to hide before the store closes. Win.)
The other great thing about the interiors of Elliot Bay is the all the wood. (See? I'm making peace with wood.) All of the books are stacked on cedar shelves and the old floorboards, creaking and sagging and slick with varnish, glow like dirty amber.
This is the photography section were I camped out for a few hours during my recent visit, blissfully alone, the day spread out before me like a blanket made from total self-involvement and expensive coffee. I also dabbled in the fiber arts (still can't knit), architecture (still can't draw), and cooking (want to buy thirty-seven new cookbooks, all expensive, but if I lived in the store they would be MINE between the hours of midnight and eight AM.)
But the good Elliot Bay people need not worry about me lurking around their store at night because, really, I lack follow-through and am deathly afraid of authority figures. And haunted bookstore mummies.
They might want to keep an eye on this kid, though. He was camped out in the children's section for a long time, plus he's tiny enough to hide in all manner of crevices and ductwork. The lucky bastard.