“What is your dream job?” A question we have all come across at some point in our life. I have often asked this question myself. I feel like the answer reveals a lot about the true self of the person, because a ‘dream job’ isn’t affected by life’s circumstances, destiny or by anybody’s expectations. The concept of the ‘dream job’ utterly and completely belongs to the person to whom the question is asked.
‘Pilot’, ‘Being like Ariana Grande’, ‘Paleontologist like Ross’ are some of the answers I have come across from people and in that instant I have known more about them than any conversation could ever help me to do. Our imagination is one heck of a weird thing, and is literally the brain child of the visual cortex. When we are working on a college project on a idyllic day, the question hits us, we ask ourselves, “If life were perfect, what would I be doing right now?” For the rest of the afternoon we imagine a hypothetical scenario while our pen keeps curving and forming letters, completing the project due the next week.
My dream job is to own a second hand bookstore somewhere in Italy. In case you’re wondering, no, I have never been to Italy, but I have known the aura of the place from the numerous books I have read through the years. I imagine the store to be a small, naked, red brick one story building. It is opposite to a small cafe, the morning chatter faintly penetrating the glass panes of the store. I am sitting behind a counter, sipping apricot juice and learning Italian. People are talking loudly while eating their breakfast outside the cafe, their hands are waving passionately and animatedly as they speak. The air in this alley smells different, the smell of tomato, basil, cheese and fading spring are all fused into one swig of breath. A middle aged woman is checking the books in the ‘history’ section, a mother is with her son in the kid’s section, a girl with red scarf in her hair is browsing through books in the ‘poetry’ section. It is a beautiful summer day and the sun’s rays are falling on my wooden counter and making a crescent of dark orange in my apricot juice in the glass.
There is no music being played, no television or posters to grab your attention, it is just you and the books, each book telling a different story. The store doesn’t smell like a regular bookstore with new books, but if you close your eyes and try to identify the smell you would realize it smells like the unexplored, dust covered shelves of an old library.
There is no rush to catch the 9 o’clock train, there is no pretending to like everybody in college, there is no feeling of mental and physical exhaustion after studying the whole day. My life in this small bookstore has peace, love, sun and stories.
Each book in the bookstore carries a back story and a collection of memories brushing through its yellowing pages. One book is the last gift a grown up woman received from her father, one book is the parting gift of two lovers, another is a book randomly bought to read on a train journey. Most books contain small notes sometimes scribbled by the person gifting or by the person reading. “On your 10th birthday. love, Mum”, “May you discover the world and its infinite possibilities. Congratulations on your graduation”, “Happy 50th anniversary” are some of the notes. Sometimes the books have scribbled pages, underlined lines, a small fold or a red heart idly drawn. These books are not pretty but they are grand.
I feel like each one of us is like an old second hand book. We are beautifully brown from our experiences and journeys, we are torn at few places from the times somebody mishandled us, we have been marked with red hearts every time we have loved, we have memorized memorable phrases and sentences of people who have had an impact on us.