Bacchus, Take Me Away!

Do you feel it? It’s time. It is time for a vacation from all of this, don’t you think? Yeah, me too. It is absolutely insane to realize that we have been fighting the Coronavirus for almost one entire year.  January marks a year since we began to hear the murmurings from Asia on the news. I remember cooking dinner in the kitchen of my new home and chatting with a girlfriend about it. I was one of the early scoffers, one of the people who discounted Covid as no worse than the flu and told my friend to keep her hair on.  Oops.

Cut to me standing in an empty bookstore in my pj bottoms, thick furry dust settling on all the surfaces, plants drooping for lack of conversation, and frankly water as I couldn’t be bothered, wondering how to keep a business that relies on human bodies not only viable but vibrant.  I hate to even admit this, but there was a week or so where I couldn’t even read. Reading has been my solace for as long as my memory reaches. It has been my adventure, my dreams, my goals, my vacation, my cure, the holder of my grief, my celebration, my source of confidence and the place I go to feel joy to my very core. For someone who can consume upwards of eight books in a week given time and opportunity, not a single word for an entire week is devastation in definition.

So what changed? The bookstore went online and lovely bookies from one end of Golden to the other and beyond began to order books. Messages of comfort and caring came through Instagram, Facebook, Messenger and email. While Albertans were banging on the windows looking for lunch, Goldenites were ordering books. CBC North By Northwest reached out to readers everywhere asking about their favourite bookstore and because so many mentioned Bacchus Books, we were in the first group of bookstores to appear on the show about independent bookstores amidst a pandemic.  That was it that was all I needed, ears to talk to books about and bodies to deliver books to.

And then the reading began again.

I got out of my pj’s, deep cleaned the store, set up a huge display in the windows, brought (most of) the plants back to life and started bagging books, literally and figuratively.  Into our shiny Bacchus bags went books of all kinds. Out to Blaeberry School Road and just up the street to 5th. Some went to Invermere too and I even sent piles to Calgary.  And I read. I read and I read and read. And then, I read some more.

I have been everywhere within the pages of my books, all over the world and into worlds that only exist in my mind. I’ve felt every emotion known to man and probably more. I’ve had to look up words and find places on the map. I’ve had every limb fall asleep and even some parts I didn’t know could, get numb. I’ve learned all sorts of new stretches and also how to walk in the snow while reading a book. I’ve read in every conceivable position with cats draped all over and around me in every location of my house. I have stopped feeling trapped. While I long to travel, even to the Okanagan, I feel free and find myself longing to get back to my books when I’m away from them.  When the threat of not being able to work day to day amongst the stacks was a reality in my life, my comfort was found in the pages of each book I read. I believe George R.R. Martin captured the magic of reading,

A reader lives a thousand lives
before he dies
The man who never reads
lives only one.

And that, dear bookies, is why you see my eyes light up when you tell me you love the book I recommended. That’s why you don’t ever need to apologise for asking to order a book when you see me in the grocery store. A bookseller believes that reading will save you, comfort you, improve you, lift you up and take you away when you need it the most.

Courtney

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