I have been doing my absolute best to avoid writing this blog post. In truth, it really should have been written last week, but I hid from it in the hope that maybe, somehow, I wouldn’t have to write it at all. In not writing it, I found myself buried chin-deep in sand. And at Soneva, there is lots of sand. I’m wondering how I might add some to the hourglass that looms over me, eking out an end one grain at a time.
In the bookshop, my denial has manifested itself in a new found enthusiasm for domestic tasks. I dust all the shelves and then dust all the dust jackets. I stock take and then I stock take again. I break down the boxes in the store room, the ones I’ve been threatening to break down every day for the last three months. I even find the gecko that has been in the shop as long as I have, chirping at me from its ever-shifting hiding space behind the books. We call a truce. You can stay, I tell her. Because it looks like I’m leaving.
My departure from paradise is not a new revelation. I knew it was coming before I even arrived, the terms were very clear. We’ll give you three months selling books in one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops, on one of the world’s most beautiful islands, but then, when the season is over, return to reality. It turns out it is very easy to relegate reality to the periphery in paradise. In the past three months it has sat somewhere at the edges of perpetual sunshine. On my final night in Soneva, rain pours.
Accepting or not, my final few days as the Barefoot Bookseller have been measured out in a list of lasts. The last time I read the morning away, waving at guests on their way to breakfast from my seat on the porch. The last time someone notices the stars on the ceiling, always a gorgeous surprise for newcomers to the shop. The last time I write out a further reading list saying, here, if you loved that then you’ll love these. The last book I sell and the last time I turn our sign from ‘opened’ to ‘closed’.
But here’s the thing about my ‘lasts’ as the Barefoot Bookseller: someday soon, they’ll be someone else’s firsts.