I saw it in a thrift store, not marked for sale, but I measured it for size anyway. I'd already been looking for a week or two and hadn't found anything good. This one was different, unique, lovely. Old dried gum was stuck to the side, and I was already imagining cleaning it off. It held stacks of old coffee cups which looked like they would crack into each other if you looked at one.
This was a shelf made for books. This was a display. The spines would angle upward to the approaching reader like a heartfelt offering.
I asked if they'd sell. Not interested.
Still thinking about it and unable to find another shelf, I asked again two weeks later, this time with a suggested price. Not interested without a replacement to hold the mugs.
The next week, I bought a shelf for a replacement and asked again.
Not interested ever.
I may have sulked. Later I may have shed a tear (or had a nasty cry for a few minutes) as I put together the replacement shelf for myself.
Sorry, awesome bookshelf. Your destiny is to hold stacked coffee cups nobody wants instead of displaying books that will be read. I wanted to save you, enjoy you, reclaim you for your intended purpose. Take you to my new house the next time I move. But the future I imagined wasn't to be.
I couldn't save you.
And instead I got the substitute that was never meant for books. But it will do for now.
It's ugly. And not what I wanted.
But it has books on it; they're no longer stacked on the floor. And my room looks like a room.