Then I came to the blank book section. That caught my eye. There were dozens of blank books: journals, sketchbooks, notebooks – some with lined paper, some with blank pages. The differences among the books were in the binding, the cover, the size, the quality of the paper.
The more expensive ones were bound in leather: “Made in Italy for Cavallini and Company, San Francisco,” said one. There were luxurious blank books. Some were artificially aged, made to look like journals that had already been on an expedition, journals that came out of the box redolent with adventure.
I felt at once both the attraction and the terror of owning one of these beautiful leather-bound journals. Across from the blank book section was a display of fine writing instruments: calligraphy pens and well bred bottles of ink. I began to fantasize about writing with such a pen.
I would sit with my leather-bound journal and my pen and nib and ink—and I would write. I would draft a sublime little essay about my day, with the fine penmanship of Jefferson—dipping my pen into the ink bottle, like taking breaths—and exhaling exquisite calligraphic writing. I would write and write into the beautiful leather-bound journal until all the wisdom I possessed was dispensed.
And there would be the truth of me, nicely worn, elegant, and inscribed on fine Italian paper: words that would move hardened cynics to tears, words that would cause the downcast to smile, words that would be utterly fascinating, even to bored readers like me.
If only I knew I could write faultlessly. There was the terror: the specter of a beautiful, finely bound leather journal desecrated by ink that could not be erased. Or worse: a blank book so pristine that I could not begin to write in it.
So I elected a less ambitious course. I chose a mid-priced journal—more expensive than a pad of paper, but not so fine or costly that I would be filled with remorse if I messed it up. The journal I selected is intended as a travel journal. It has an aged photograph of the Eiffel Tower on the cover. The colors are faded and there is a trompe l’oil postage stamp “Le Republique Francais – 10 ¢” in the upper right corner.
The journal I chose has a convenient black elastic band, bound so that I can insert it snugly at any spot to keep my place—as I will only write, presumably, in between adventures. After I bought this book, I realized that that was exactly what I wanted: an adventure, but I would not travel to Paris. No, I'm to travel in the incubator of my imagination, the uncomfortable, breathtaking space where all things are possible. I'm traveling toward the unfolding me, toward the moment the flower blooms.