It’s really warm in here.
I’m in Borders Book store, wearing a sweater and heavy overcoat. I have my laptop bag slung over one shoulder (six pounds at least) and my “purse” over the other. It’s crowded. I’m making every attempt not to brush up on anyone or even look them in the eye. We’re all holiday shoppers, but we’re also New Yorkers. Merry Christmas — now don’t touch me.
I make my way into a back corner where I spy a gift that I’m going to buy. There are a few other ladies back here, all in heavy overcoats, spaced at least two feet apart from each other. How can I infiltrate without touching anyone?
I can’t. I stand back and wait for someone to fall off and then take their spot.
Gifts in hand, I make my way to the cashier. However, in order to get there I must walk past the big-pictures-of-outer-space books with titles like Atlas of the Universe. I stop and I stare. I won’t look at the humans around me, but slap a picture of Jupiter in front of me and I’m mesmerized. Jooooopiterrrrrrr (imagine twirling whirlpools in my eyes).
Number one — I LOVE outerspace
To me, nothing on Earth is as interesting as those things which are not on Earth. Space is mostly empty nothingness, but I am romantic about the emptiness. I am romantic about stars and galaxies, but not so much because they twinkle and pose for nice pictures from Hubble, but because they exist in three dimensions and move. In every galaxy there are stars, planets, asteroids, moons, all these things whipping around as graceful giants. In Heaven, on one of my free days, I’m planning on asking God for permission to take a swim through space. Maybe He’ll come with me for the best tour ever. I just think it’s really neat.
Number two — I have bought Christmas presents for others based on what I would like
Fear not, those who I am buying for. I did not buy you Atlas of the Universe,though I wanted to! It’s taken me 27 years of Christmas presents to learn not to assume my mother will like outerspace as much as me. Or to assume that my too-cool-for-everything pre-teen sister Jodie wouldn’t like a “shark game” as much as 11 year old Kari would.
I have a storied past within my family for either giving bad gifts, or giving away what the present is before it’s opened. Once I grew out of the “guess what I bought you,” phase, I seamlessly entered the “I would like this, so would you” phase. I’m still recovering.
Back at Borders, I’ve paid for the gifts I chosen and gratefully walk away from the cashier’s station. The frozen December air drifts over me as I escape onto the snow-lined sidewalk of Saratoga. I make my way with cautious baby steps through an icy parking lot to my car. I will drive home under the bright winter stars, thinking about what a great gift Atlas of the Universe would be.