Finding “it,” right here

I often fall victim to an ailment common in twenty-year-old people: the delusion that I am much more worldly than I really am. The goal of my two decades has been, so far, to become as cultured as possible. I can immediately locate my favorite art pieces in the MFA, recite Shakespeare by rote and carry on a (pitiful) conversation in French. I have done my fair share of traveling to far off lands seeking to find art, local traditions— anything unique. Unfortunately, I learned that chain stores trump all, as I stared sadly into a McDonalds 4,000 miles away from my place of origin.

It was with the attitude of a disillusioned romantic (or, a kid growing up) that I began working at Cornerstone Books. To my astonishment, slowly but surely, color began to seep back into the world. It all began with the in-store events. While shelving books I would hear authors read exerpts from their books and riveting discussions would pop up out of nowhere. I started to meet local characters with fascinating stories to tell. Just last Saturday I was taken by complete surprise and delight when Fretless
 Capella serenaded the entire bookstore for a very memorable hour.

 I would say that the eureka came when I worked a Thursday shift and discovered the charming clutter of Salem’s Farmer’s Market, where all the
artists and craftspeople come out to play. While walking around on my lunch break I realized that I had been to Salem many times before, but I had never really experienced it. In this charmingly vintage area usually devoted to witch trial history I found what most of us as starving for in our world of perpetual Walmarts: one-of-a-kind artisans! Food, clothing and artwork that came from inspiration, almost literally made with love. “Charming” and “unique” are too condescending to describe what downtown Salem really is.

To put it simply, Salem is where it’s at.

Of course I would learn such a lesson at Cornerstone Books. I tell friends who have not yet experienced its delight that it is indeed a bookstore, but it double-functions as a local hangout spot—the living room of Salem, if you will. I am obliged to Cornerstone for my new obsession with and patronage of everything local. Perhaps if my nose hadn’t been so preoccupied with the aroma of what lies abroad, it would have been able to sniff out the creative hubbub that was directly underneath it.

Citizens of Salem, learn from my mistakes. You need not purchase that
1,000 dollar ticket to experience a novel world, for it thrives in your
own backyard.

Rozena Crossman joined the wonderful world of Cornerstone Books this past May. She attends college at Queen’s University in Ontario and is working towards a BAH in world religions. Although she’s usually reading fancy adult novels, her true passion lies in the children’s section.


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July 2010

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