Monday 22 March 2010

Through A Looking Glass 10

photo by Margo

A couple of month’s ago i asked some folk who had been dropping into my blog to write a guest post.

I gave them the theme « Mirror » and i asked each of them to apply their Personal Mirror (whatever that meant to them) to any one of my posts, or part thereof.

These are the results.

The Mirror Series, Part Seven. MARGO

I first stumbled upon Margo’s blog whilst trying to find a Ferlinghetti poem on line.

I started reading, went back earlier in the blog and read a bit more. I kept being surprised by many things we both valued..

I left a few comments, she replied, I read more and when I started to imagine this series of Mirror posts I wanted to invite her to contribute, hoping she would select something about San Francisco.

I was shy to ask, I’m glad I did.

"Hi Chris,
I'm sorry it's taken me a bit, but I have my guest blog post to give to you. I chose to write about City Lights Bookstore, as a reflection of your post on the shop. It's one of my favorite places in the city, so I felt like I had something to say about it. If you would like me to send pictures along as well, I'd be happy to do that. For now, here's the post. Please let me know if you think it will fit in with your blog series, and thanks again for thinking of me. "

Her blog is here

Mirror Post/Margo

The first time I found my way to City Lights Bookstore was much later in life then I would have liked. I was driving along Columbus Avenue in my mom’s car, nervous mostly about finding parking...I tend to do that, get nervous about finding the place I’m looking for, even when I have directions guiding me right to it. I was taking the day to go sightseeing in my own backyard, but going to places I had never been before. You see, San Francisco is my favorite city in the world, and I grew up just across the bay. But I had only explored the surface in my first twenty years, and I have a mission not to let the rest of it get away from me. So I started my day with a famous Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café, a stroll around the waterfront, and now I was looking for parking at City Lights.

I love poetry. And I love bookstores. I would live in a bookstore if I could. So a bookstore, dedicated to poetry, in San Francisco? Mecca. How had I never been there before? But this was my day, and I couldn’t wait to experience this store that…whoops, there it goes past my window, I missed it. Just like I knew I would. I anxiously circle the block (which takes a while in San Francisco) and come back around to Columbus, where I see a perfect parking spot just opening up in front of Kerouac Alley. Mine! I knew there was something magical about this place. There’s a thirty minute limit on the parking meter, but I figure I’ll come back out and feed another set of quarters in if I’m still shopping around. And then I walk up the street and through the door, into City Lights.

It’s wonderfully modest, as all good bookstores are. A small counter near the front, a few stairs that take you into the next room, and eclectic individuals weaving between the rows and each other. It was lovely, and I immediately felt smug for being inside a historical gemstone. I took my time walking around, looking for nothing in particular, but finding myself just a little disappointed that there were no poetry books in the stacks. I knew I wanted to buy something, but nothing was standing out…until I saw the staircase. The staircase that led up, to what I had assumed was an Employees-Only area, but wasn’t. And up those stairs? A room. Full. Of. Poetry. Just Poetry! That’s when I got lost. There were only a handful of shelves, but they were packed with books from countless poets, alphabetized, of course, and waiting to be found. I spent the next who-knows-how-long browsing every title, trying to choose between four books, then five, then seven, then back down to four…how do I pick? I settled on a Robert Frost collection and a Pablo Neruda collection (which is absolutely beautiful, by the way).

Reluctantly, I made my way downstairs to pay, still hoping that Mr. Ferlenghetti would be behind the checkout counter and would immediately recognize my love of literature, offering me a job on the spot. He wasn’t. But I had my books, and it was time to leave, because I had spent almost an hour…wait, what? An hour? I hurried back to my car to see how much my parking ticket would cost me, but, as I said, there’s something magical about this place. No ticket. Which is unheard of, and incredibly generous of Mr. Ferlenghetti, I thought, because I’m sure it was him that kept an eye on my car for me. I have no other way of explaining it. It made the whole experience that much better, so I took a picture of Kerouac Alley before I drove off to read my new books in the park overlooking the Painted Ladies. And then to explore the Grateful Dead's house in the Haight. And then off to wander near the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park. Ohh, San Francisco…

I was sad to move back to school in September and away from the city I love so deeply, but I will always be back. And I will always be back to City Lights Bookstore.


Everything you need to know about this Mirror series

Part One of The Mirror Series here

Part Two of The Mirror Series here

Part Three of The Mirror Series here

Part Four of The Mirror Series here

Part Five of The Mirror Series here

Part Six of The Mirror Series here.

Part Seven of The Mirror series here.

Part Eight of The Mirror Series here.

Part Nine of The Mirror series here

1 comment:

popps said...

i too would live in a bookstore if i could, there is one here in the local village for sale and sometimes.....