I'm exceptionally aware of kids in the shop today.
A little boy just came up and asked me if a huge book on airplanes was really only nine dollars (it was).
I didn't recognize him until his dad came up to double check the price (still nine dollars) and pay for the book- another store kid, I remember his mom radiantly pregnant, and later their pushing him around in one of those overbuilt all terrain strollers.
Today he's four feet tall in a olive drab sunhat explaining to me his love of military aircraft.
A little girl, maybe two feet tall, was the most enthusiastic customer I've ever seen. It took her parents five tries to get her out of the shop- she kept breaking loose and running back through the door, laughing and chattering and spinning around, pointing at all the books.
Her fifth and final appearance broke up the entire front of the shop, beginning with her and rippling out through me, her dad, the older lady with the stack of romances, the young couple carrying the tiny dog, the teenagers loitering at the sale cart, all of us.
And earlier, another member of the store 'stroller to college' association, who unquenchable enthusiasm for the stairs to the history loft caused her parents endless dismay as a child, now a tall young woman who loves Russian literature.
And the whole time I'm wondering if a sociopath will use the licence our society affords its outcasts and extremists to open fire on them someday.
Yesterday after work we picked up our son, intent on appreciating him in some extra measure like that could counterbalance the losses of other families. But he is himself, unconcerned with these things, and when it was time to leave the bay he instead took to his heels, seeking refuge in the field next to the labyrinth from sundown and father both.
It was an unpleasant ride home.
But then he took a long bath and we read books for an hour in bed, buried in soft blankies and his cozy friends, and he gave me a little pat like he sometimes does, the way I patted him not so very long ago, when he was a sleepless baby crying for some indefinable thing.