This Moment: Golden Braid Bookstore 2:07 P.M. 24 August 2012
A steady stream is flowing from a brass pipe onto a rock. The water slides from another worn rock and collects in a small rock-lined pool. A collection of pennies, and assorted change forms a capital "m" in the bottom of the fountain. I share the narrow bench with a Buddha, the size of a small child. I hear my daughter's voice at the back of the store. She is a woman now. Strange, how just yesterday she was a child I would have to remind to stay out of the fountain, that the money was an offering to luck. I know I showed her to make a wish, but I don't remember where or when. I have seen her take coins from her hand bag, close her eyes and fold into her secret self, then toss the coins and watch them sink. She knows to keep her wish a secret. Only she and the water know it's content. A bearded man in shorts and sandals is pulling cards from a nearby rack. He is leaning forward now, arms crossed, examining the selection. He walks to the other side of the stand, his shadow visible on the book case behind him. I have traded the hard bench for a wide bench with a cushion in the children's section. I am surrounded with color and images designed to foster joy. My companions on this bench are a raccoon puppet and books about blue horses and great art in numbers. A man in a blue shirt wears a smile so broad and warm I have to turn away. Why must I turn? A store employee brings a basket of lotion samples to try. I choose Moonflower. It is her favorite. She says it reminds her of her childhood, which I imagine, like my daughter, she left a few years ago. It has a hint of talcum and the distinct sweet and earthy notes of a freshly bathed infant's head. The young woman agrees and adds it smells like her old babydolls. It saddens me to wonder in which cardboard box or closet back her discarded dolls harbor inside. Each of us put aside the simplicity of our youth and then spend the rest of our lives in search of it. The lotion shimmers on my hands. The music switches from acoustic guitar to a woman singing happily in French about the tragedy of love gone terribly wrong. I am instantly aggrieved, and want to tell someone that broken love isn't funny, but then the playful trombone behind the voice points out it is an inside joke that the whole of the world is in on. I look to my companion on the bench and smile. The raccoon, trickster of the animal world would say "broken love is the best of jokes", if it could speak. Yes, I would have to agree. It is the best joke of all.