Two weeks ago, I posted a photo of my zine library which lives on top of my bookshelf. The Alternative Library is quite a bit bigger, occupying the main room of a historic church in Bellingham, WA. I live in White Rock, BC, and the city across the bay is Blaine, WA, but Bellingham is a little farther down the road. It’s a city with an airport, so you know how big it is.
Growing up before 9/11, going across the line was an everyday part of life. The dollar was better then, too, and we’d often get in the car after dinner, drive down to fill up the gas tank, then get soft-serve ice cream at the Edaleen Dairy on the way back. The choices were chocolate, vanilla, or a twist of both. I always got the twist.
If you don’t know Washington well, you probably know Seattle. The rest of the state isn’t like that. Most of the towns to the north are small and industrial. The houses are cute mid-century bungalows. The highway is dotted with Trump-supporting billboards.
I’m lucky that it’s still easy for me to cross the border. I’m white; I’m usually in a car with family; I submitted to the pre-interview and retina scan because my family can’t use the Nexus lane if we don’t all have Nexus cards.
I don’t feel scared on the other side of the border. But I do feel different, not quite right. And then I find a place like the Bellingham Alternative Library. The group has turned this old church into a quiet space for books and the people who love them. The shelves fill the walls where stained glass used to be.
Behind the desk and the spiral staircase, in the space that might have once been the apse, there’s a community store. There are zines and cassettes and T-shirts for sale from artists far and local. I didn’t need to see the safe space sign up front; I felt it.
The Saturday after next, July 27th, I’ll have a table at the South Surrey Festival. I’ll have copies of all the zines on my portfolio page for sale, and hopefully, one or two new ones. If you’re in the area, you should come around and say hello.