This week we had another whirlwind tour of southern Texas, starting out in Houston, then College Station and finally finishing out the week in Austin. Austin is quickly becoming one my favorite towns to visit. In particular, I could spend two weeks on the corner of Lamar and 6th Street downtown. On that one intersection there is the Book People bookstore, a huge REI store and the original Whole Foods market. I could just pitch a tent (conveniently purchased from REI) right there in the garden of the Whole Foods parking lot and vacation there for a week. If I lived there permanently, I would be well-fed, well-read, protected from the outdoor elements and very very poor.
The Book People in particular is a glue trap of an establishment. I keep going there with co-workers after our meetings and am never sure just how long they want to spend in a store like that at the end of the day. I rush in and try to go to all my favorite sections of the store first (stationery, journals, kids toys, gift books) before I branch out to the other areas that I hope I'll have time to peruse. That burst of energy and all the sensory input in the store combined with helpful tattooed staff make my chest hurt with excitement.
This is no Barnes & Noble. It's a patchouli infused smorgasbord of culture I can't get at home. I found an entire shelf of books about Type 1 diabetes next to books on running and physical therapy. Around the corner were childrens' books I had never heard of with recommendation cards from the staff, all spread out next to classic literature instead of crammed into a neon corner of the store. They have Acme pens and business card holders in a glass case. They have acorn and oak leaf themed ceramics on shelves. They have kitschy holiday toys littering the stairs. They have little Buddha statues in the religion section. They sell bags and kitchen gadgets next to their cookbooks. There's a line of magazines for hobbies I didn't even know existed. It really is a bit overwhelming. I pondered getting a latte while I was in there but feared the espresso would push me over the edge and I might fall over from shock.
My latest haul from there included mostly journals I can't find anywhere else, a running book that was on sale, tiny colored pencils in a travel kit and a stationery set to write letters to kids. I left the oinking LED pig-shaped keychain behind at the register but it was hard to do.
I think the next time I go to Texas, I'm going to have to bring a larger suitcase. (And yes, Fred, I will call you and we can have beer and Mexican food. I promise.)