Barnes & Noble: A Love Story
Why do the places where we spend our time mean so much to us? In this story, I explain how a trip to a local Barnes & Noble with my girlfriend became a launching pad for our love story.
You're listening to seven minute stories with Aaron Calafato , this episode: Jump on the roof!
AARON CALAFATO - STORY
Why is it that the spaces we spend time in means so much to us?.
And why are they so prevalent in our minds? There is a deep association between the place where in and the occasion, or the relationship and their symbiotic to a certain degree. And I think I found at least part of an answer that makes sense to me. And I want to tell you that at the end of the story. But first, I want to tell you about how I ended up in this Barnes and Noble to begin with. First of all my hipster friends, I know there's bookstores out there where you can go there that are local shops and I've been to them and there's some really nice ones but, in mass, when you're traveling around a large geographical area it's not as easy to get to some of those and at least where I lived and where Cori and I were meeting when we first started dating, we had to find places of convenience because we had limited time with each other. And we wanted to spend, and I can just say for me, I wanted to spend a ton of time with her.
I wanted to spend every hour with her but I couldn't really tell her that because I had to play it cool. I was trying to, you know, follow these social norms and say you know Yeah I'll call you in a couple of days, but inside, I was... yearning for the lack of a better word. To just see her and be with her because once it's a right match. And once I felt that. I just wanted to pick her brain and hear her ideas and just being around her made me feel right... So we both had to be patient.
When we first started dating and we had kids we didn't want to rush our kids into this relationship and force them to meet each other, so we took our time. And we were always looking for places where we could spend a lot of time and talk. And restaurants are cool but they're trying to turn tables so you can't spend all the time in the world there. And movies are nice when you want to see a movie but not a lot of room for conversation. So one night we're driving along this road and we're just looking for something to do and we both looked up and we're almost blinded by the neon white lights of the Barnes and Noble store that we were passing and we both knew it...
We had to go inside. So I pulled the car in the parking lot and it was almost like it was fate. We didn't even say anything. I just opened the door and we held hands and we walked inside ....And our senses were assaulted in the best possible way. There is a unique smell and a sound to a Barnes and Noble. There's the smell of the coffee coming from the coffee shop mixing with the smell of the new books. People leafing through pages shuffling in and out between the bookshelves. People going up and down the escalator. And the escalator almost serves as a conductor going click clack clack clack back and forth almost like a soft subway directing the ambiance of the entire establishment.
And then you hear conversations. People are having great talks and laughing but in a modest and thoughtful way, I mean, don't get me wrong I love the library. But in a library you gotta read. You're doing research you got to be in it. Otherwise, people come up as say shhhh, and I've been one of those people to say shhhsss, but nobody in the barn and Barnes and Noble is going to come up to you and say shhhssss! because it's a Barnes Noble. If they do that you just say: "Hey got a proble?" and they go "maybe!" and you go "Okay let's go outside...".
So that just doesn't happen there. So it was a perfect environment for us. And Cori and I just go to every section that we can of this Barnes and Noble and just start reading and talking about different books that we love. Different books that we've read. Books that we want to read and we haven't read and then kind of going oh my gosh you haven't read that!. And then we start reading passages back and forth. It was like, it was like an exchange of ideas, a call and response, where I would find a book and a section that really compelled me and meant something to me and I would share it with her and read it to her and see how it landed.
And just watching her. And seeing how she reacted to that was so beautiful. And she would do the same thing she would read me things from books that she loved and found meaning in and I learned so much about her because of that.
And we did this for hours and then we made our way through the Romance Section.... with the romance novels and I mean this in the best possible way because we, we would laugh and joke. I would open up a romance novel and in a really corny voice sort of narrate where it's like. And "then Rusty the cowboy walks upstairs and he's looking for his long lost love and the door is locked and he takes a hammer and he smashes it and he says: baby you gotta be mine" or something ridiculous and we're just cracking up at this and just being the stupidest silliest people in the entire store.
And then things get a little bit more serious because we go to the poetry section. Then I start pulling out the romance card, not in the weird intentional way, but really I start reading some of my favorite poets and she's reading some of hers and I'm finding different sections and poetry that not only speak to me, but speak to me in a way that reflect how I feel for her in that very moment. And I just start reading her this poetry, not ridiculously or loud, but just intimately to her and I don't care. There are people passing by and kind of looking and going what's going on.
Doesn't matter, because it's all fog around her. And it's just me and her. Delivering poetry to one another. It felt like we were doing something right. And as we walked out that evening we both looked up at the white neon sign and she said something to me that just took me aback. She said "you know I didn't want to tell you this before we walked in. But right when we started dating I had a dream that if we were meant to be together that we would end up at this Barnes and Noble". I said "Are you serious?" She goes yes "and then so when we drove by and you said let's go inside. It was like my heart melted." I was like "I had no idea.
I'm so glad that I like lived up to the dream version of me."
And she was happy and we were both like completely blown out of our minds because here we were in this almost storybook moment in front of a bookstore and it just reminds me of what I was going to tell you at the beginning of this story. Which is, the reason why we care so much about this place, at this Barnes Noble, or you care about the place that that you care about with the ones you love has nothing to do really with the place. The place is just a facade. It's just a structur. It's just an edifice. It has inanimate objects inside. It's what you make of that place. And in fact the exchange and the connection you have with the human being inside of that place is uniquely yours and no one else's......
And that is beautiful because it belongs to you. And so, every once in a while, as the years have passed Cori and I always go back and have date nights where we return back to that Barnes and Noble because it's where we're supposed to be. And when we walk through the doors we know every single time, we're in fact, turning another page in the story of our lives together.
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