At the end of the day yesterday I had two lovely customers come in. They are both high school seniors who have been shopping at the store for all 16 years we’ve been open. One, Sofia, had just been accepted early decision at NYU, and the other, Maryanne, is waiting to hear from about seven colleges.
As I talked with these young women I was struck by how grown up they both were. Each drove to the store themselves, (That kids drive to themselves to the store amazes me. It tickles me every time they come in swinging their keys) and had her own credit card. But more stunning was how grounded these kids were. Sofia and I had a long talk about the relative merits of John Green novels versus David Levithan’s. Of course we had this discussion in the adult section because Sofia, while a lover of YA literature, felt the time had come “…for a book as good as John Green, but for adults.”
When Sofia was 10 she came to our old location and announced she wanted “to be ashed under the bookstore.” As creepy as this sounded, there was something really touching about this. Her love of books was strong; even as a 10-year-old she knew she needed to be surrounded by them. Although why a little kid would be spending so much time thinking about her death is a bit odd, I was touched that she wanted her final resting place to be our store.
When she was about 11, Maryanne came into the old store crying. I approached her gently and asked if she was all right. She said they had just put her cat down and she just wanted to be in with the books and smell them. I let her be for 10 minutes and then we started talking about how much she loved her cat and she left feeling better.
These moments from years ago touch me deeply and I was reminded of that yesterday. We have been privileged to see these kids grow up to young adults. Sofia used to come and just hang out, when her parents were going through a nasty divorce. Maryanne would come in seeking thoughtful recommendations for books for her father. We talked about the colleges they were going to and the insane expense of it. They both asked for jobs.