First we were shoe shopping. I know for some people this is like saying "First we went to get ice cream sundaes." I am not one of those people.
Chestnut and I were looking for small happy sandals. She is 10, after all. We looked, and we looked, and we looked. When we got to the third shoe store, it was thronged. The music was relentless. I was barely hanging on. But we found what we were looking for, sandals with three big bows (trust me, it would like nice on her) and asked for her size. When the shoe store person heard us, she took the shoes with bows away. "Oh, for that size, you need to go to the other side."
Do you want to know what the other side is? It's where they keep the grownup shoes. Shoes that may have bows, but they're not what I would call friendly bows.
And then I was at Barnes & Noble. (I know this is starting to sound like some hallucinatory bad dream, but it's all real. I'm just skipping the nonessential—I was solo this time.) I'd tried looking for Fun Home at my local bookstore, but they didn't have it. I was out of books, and I was wandering in the hopeless way that afflicts me in large and impersonal stores. I though, "I've been meaning to read When You Reach Me. Maybe I'll look for it here?" And I thought, maybe I'll get something for Diana. I wandered to the children's section. I looked for chapter books—and they were all "ages 7 to 12." Or "Through Grade 6." Apparently if you want to get a book for someone older, you have to go to the other side of the bookstore, far far away, where you disappear into the endless shelves of "Teen Paranormal Romance."
I feel immensely foolish even saying it, and heaven knows plaintive as well, but why must there be this big divide? I feel like I'm about to push my kids out the airlock. As if there's a here—and then there's a there, and it's nowhere near where you started.
Must the gradient be quite so steep? I wish, somehow, that one could drift from A Wrinkle in Time to The Hunger Games to…well, to anything. I want all the books to organized by greatness, not by age. I don't want Diana to feel like the children's section has no place for her anymore. I want Chestnut to be able to buy sandals with giant freaking bows and smiley faces too. I want….
I want, I guess, things that aren't quite possible.