California

Time Enough

I should be grading. I should be preparing syllabi. I should be doing something to put my house in order. Instead, I took the day for me.
We aren’t going to find out about the state of our house and the extent of the repairs needed until Monday, so there’s really nothing I can do about that (or so I tell myself). So, I went downtown San Diego to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants: Pokez. It’s primarily vegan or vegetarian, but it also serves items filled with meaty goodness. I love that even if I’m not in the mood to eat a lot, I can just order a Negro Modelo and chips and salsa without any fuss.

The other wonderful thing about Pokez is that it is just a few blocks from an excellent bookstore on Broadway. Wahrenbrock’s is the perfect mix of used pulp fiction, out of print rarities, and hot-off-the-press bestsellers–all set in an old, multistoried building that blends light and shadows in a way that just demands you explore and read. And I do . . . usually for hours.

I went to Wahrenbrock’s for the first time two years ago. This bookstore was a discovery by my friend, and he graciously shared it with me since we both possess an avid love for books. We went with my infant son who, at that time, didn’t have much of an appreciation for anything besides a good poop and breastmilk, and he got to experience both there. That’s the other good thing about Wahrenbrock’s: it has lots of secluded corners for either quiet reading or discreet breastfeeding.

So after the Reader, beer, and chips and salsa. I went to Wahrenbrock’s and spent the golden afternoon hours in their upstairs front rooms, under the full wall of windows, leaning against the book stacks and reading books about Dutch and Italian painters.

In a good bookstore, time slows down. Suddenly, you have, as Rilke puts it, “world enough and time” to browse, read, think, utterly lose yourself and then find it again in the printed words of stranger. It’s magical and defies explanation though, once you experience it, you will try to share it with others and will fail miserably unless they’ve lived a similar moment.

After the light began to fade, I recalled myself to the world of responsibility, of grading, child, and errands. However, I didn’t have to do so for very long because this was a Friday night of babysitting and pizza (for my son and his aunties) and the beautiful music of Handel’s Messiah and no cooking (for me).

If you live in or visit San Diego, drop in on the folks at Bronx Pizza. As a bonus to the fun, thickly accented characters baking perfect, heavenly New York style pies, you’ll never have to leave the city to visit the East Coast. If you go in evening, you can stand outside (ok, you’ll have to, as it can get crowded) as you wait with the congenial regulars and watch the fading light illuminate the perfect evening on its way West.

Son fed and in bliss with his doting and beautiful aunties (honestly, my son is going to be so screwed up when he is old enough to date because he’s going to expect beautiful women to fawn over him), my husband and I headed downtown to hear Handel’s Messiah. Yet another experience too difficult to explain unless you managed to catch one of the performances . . .

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