This Way to Nowhere: A Beckoning Squid Adventure

Being someone who loves to write, I’m always in need of a new pen and notebook. My recently acquired dark blue, medium-tipped TUL pen needed a new notebook companion, so I set off to find one.

Since I am not one to possess even the slightest sense of direction, I relied on my longtime driving companion, GPS. When the name Nowhere Bookshop popped up, I clicked on it without hesitation. As I dodged a set of potholes, my GPS informed me that I had missed my turn. Grouchy, but not deterred, I steered to go around the back of a multicolored building.

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The GPS immediately recalculated and delightfully chirped in mid-turn that I had arrived at my destination. Confused, I glanced out the side window to see a giant black tentacle painted on the backside of the building. The tip curled like a beckoning finger, encouraging passersby to follow it if they dared. With my car safely parked, I embodied Alice and followed my version of the White Rabbit.

With Curiosity Building, I Followed the Alleyway Squid

I walked down the steep alley. My eyes never left the dark tentacle as it twisted to join the rest of the limbs belonging to a squid adorned with a floral crown. A beautiful mural with capitalized letters taller than me was along the wall, which stated THIS WAY TO NOWHERE. Rows of potted plants guided me to the front entrance glass doors that opened to what I would describe as a receiving area. The checkout zone reminded me of a spa boutique, only in place of face creams and lotions were locally crafted jewelry and witty stickers.

Nowhere Bookshop
Nowhere Bookshop (Image Courtesy of Tao Haydel)

Accustomed to technology, I had been in the habit of experiencing things virtually. When considering places to go or things to do, I would look up reviews and images rather than just showing up somewhere. So, imagine my delight to see that to the left of me were hilarious socks and mugs, describing life’s woes in a playful yet unapologetic manner. To the right of me were clever keychains and heavy lapel pins. I was unquestionably convinced that my mailbox key needed its own keychain, and a light blue, old hotel plastic diamond card with embossed gold lettering that read Write Drunk Edit Sober was the winner.

This Was Turning Into an Adventure Painted By the Sun

Nowhere Bookshop
Nowhere Bookshop (Image Courtesy of Tao Haydel)

The sunlight in the bookshop poured in and touched everything it could, from the terracotta-colored arabesque floor tiles to the flat grey ceiling dripping in Edison lightbulbs. The floor plan was open with high ceilings, and the tall bookshelves that lined the walkway markedly created sound-dampening alcoves similar to those found in libraries. It was not a bookshop that necessarily encouraged boisterous conversation but rather prepared for the increase in sound that came naturally with crowds and the liquid courage station on the back wall.

There was a small café and alcohol station set up in the back; however, it was closed due to then-current COVID-19 rates. Standing there alone, I was hit with the realization that I missed the natural ebb and flow of socialization within the bookish community. I looked at the store with new eyes and was able to envision it full of people enjoying the atmosphere together.

Living in Today’s Digital World Cannot Easily Replicate the Warmth & Camaraderie Found in a Bookstore

It would be neat to once again overhear conversations regarding bookshelf knick-knacks, displayed hot-button topics, and calendar-themed items. This store certainly had every dust-free bookend to tease the mind and keep the feet moving to further explore.

Eventually, my exploration led me to the raised pony wall encased children’s section. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a colorful disaster that one was accustomed to seeing in more commercial bookstores. Instead,
the design opted for neutral colors and soft rugs. There were National Geographic books for kids, and next to them was a smartly placed rack of hand puppets shaped like various animals.

Adventure Books Are Better When Read By the Light of a Pirate Ship Chandelier

Nowhere Bookshop
Nowhere Bookshop (Image Courtesy of Tao Haydel)

Indeed, over the center table ladled with adventure books, there was a pirate ship chandelier. I’m not ashamed to admit that I would’ve taken home the seafaring vessel light fixture if there had been a price tag. As a mother, I was undeniably pleased to find that the children’s section was thoughtfully organized for those who would utilize the space. As a reader, I was especially elated to see the open, yet politely sectioned-off, sensory seating by the windows, should a child wish to read right away.

I then went to the register and noticed a plethora of notebooks, and one, in particular, stood out. Old scuba divers doing yoga on the cover of a spiral-bound notebook reminded me of why I had come to the bookshop in the first place.

The design was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and once again, I had to have it. The staff was friendly throughout my entire tour, and we exchanged small chitchat with a familiar smile that written word lovers all share. Transaction complete, we waved farewell with less of a goodbye and more of a see you later because we both knew that I would find my way back to Nowhere.

Like Alice Reflecting on Her Experience in Wonderland, I Think Back on Mine in Nowhere

Albeit not the same as in-person shopping, I can still explore the store via their website. It is neat that they offer various book club opportunities while simultaneously having the option for a blind date with a book. At this time, I am unsure when I will be able to return.

My fortune to travel generally comes at the cost of unlikely return. With the thrill of the uniqueness still fresh in my mind, I will be making more of an effort to just show up at places and let myself be surprised. If possible, I hope that you, dear readers, will too, and if not, then virtually come with me on my journeys. I would greatly enjoy the company.

*Nowhere Bookshop is located at 5154 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209 and can be found on Facebook and Instagram