All right bilbliophiles, I am about to share something and I hope a few of you can relate to this.
About a year ago I had to move back in with my parents. Now, at the time I was devastated. I felt like a failure, here I was at 24, a recipient of a Master’s degree and I had to move back in with dear old Mom and Dad. But, upon being home for a few months I became a little more OK with the situation (read here, found it acceptable for no more than two years). There were a lot of boomerang children in their parent’s homes. The bad economy left most of us with an education no viable jobs to apply for. I still find postings that I am either over-educated for, or under qualified for given my skills. The other reason I became more OK with it was because living in California is not cheap. The average rent in a decent area starts at $1,000 a month for a small studio apartment (read here, 600 sq feet, on the boarder of the ghetto’s with utilities NOT included). So, at the end of the day I really had no other choice.
(Yup, that is a picture of when I moved out, I obviously felt the need to record the place I was leaving)
Here I am living back at my parents house, me, my stuff, and of course, my books. I have books everywhere. My bookshelves I bought on sale at Target years ago are now starting to sag under the weight of some of my anthologies I have from grad school. I have books stuffed into my walk-in closet, wedged between my shoe boxes and suitcases. My desk, well let’s not get starting on all the stuff I stash there.
So here I am,sitting in my room one day, looking over my collection debating whether I want to re-read a favorite or take myself to a bookstore for something new when my mom walks into my sacred space. She just brings herself inside and asks me, “What are you doing?”
I look up at her in disbelief (from shock of her intrusion and irritation at the obvious answer to her question) “Looking for something to read.”
And boy was that the wrong way to respond!
She then begins the slow look. You all know what look I am talking about. The slow mom look. Mom’s you know, where you slowly take in the scene to evaluate the damage being done to your living space. The look that will ALWAYS lead to the eyes squinting and the brows to furrow ever so slightly.
“Mmmmm. Is that what you are doing?”
At this point I begin to get scared. A slight sweat builds on my palms. The next time my mom speaks, it is not going to be good.
“Well honey. It looks to me like you have PLENTY here to read. In fact, I would say you could get rid of a few books.”
I am pretty sure at this point I fainted. Or blacked out for a moment. Or momentarily went deaf. I might have even experienced it in slow motion, like a movie scene. Either way, my heart felt like is stopped.
(I am pretty sure this is how I looked, courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half)
“What do you mean get rid of a few books?!?!?!” I shrilled back, “How can you even ask me that? My books are like part of me! You are asking me to get rid of an arm!” Was I slightly over-dramatic, maybe, but she needed to understand.
To this my mom rolled her eyes and replied simply and in a matter-of-fact tone, “I’ll bring up some moving boxes. You can box them up and we can take them to your grandma’s house to store.”
“YOU WANT ME TO PUT THEM WHERE?!?!?!” I shouted. She expected me to box up some of my friends in darkness. She was asking me to pick my favorite child. How could I pick on over the other? Had I been six still I would have lay on the floor and pouted, kicked, screamed and cried until it wasn’t so. But alas, I am 24, and that isn’t an option anymore.
(But boy how I wish I could)
So I began boxing up my friends. Holding them close to me. Flipping through the pages. Making sure there were no momentos stuck between the pages. Taking out post it notes left from projects. It was a sad day. Only to be made worse…..
After I spent two hours, yes, two hours, boxing up all the books I didn’t think I would need for some time, I took them down to be transported to my grandma’s house. I left them at the foot of the stairs for my little brother and dad to put on his truck. My mom and dad starting loading the truck with other items of mine that needed to be stored (all my kitchen gear I wouldn’t need, wall art I didn’t have room for) and then my little brother came to help.
Help should be a loose term. My little brother has a lazy streak, an example of this would be his chores. He has very few chores but he can’t even accomplish them. One of said chores is to throw out the trash. Now, instead of throwing it out when it gets full, like a normal human being, he chooses to step on the trash and compact it. He will compact the trash about 3 times a week, so by trash day the house smells. Now, why don’t I take out the trash? Well sometimes I do, only it is heavy after two compactions, and I end up needing a dolly to help me wheel it out of the house, so I generally avoid the trash can.
So said little brother comes down to “help” my dad move the boxes on to the truck bed. Only his idea of “helping” is to push the boxes with an old broom, that appears to have been whittled down to a throwing spear (it was pointing on one end). In the process of his “helping” with the pushing of the stick he RIPPED OPEN THE BOX!!!!! Ripped it open! And not only that, he tore pages from some my books!!!!!
I had a melt down.
A full on, I am going to stand here and cry in the middle of the room, freak out.
My mom and dad rushed in because they heard me yelling, crying, and my little brother cursing back at me. And what do they see? Their 24 year old daughter standing in the entry way sobbing over books. I think my dad laughed and my mom told me to stop over-reacting.
Looking back on the event it could have been an off day for me. Maybe I was just in a mood. Maybe the stars and the moons aligned. OR maybe, just maybe, my books mean a lot to me. More than other human beings can imagine.
The other day I went to look for a book I was in the mood to read, I am pretty sure I was looking for one of my old children’s lit books, and I felt frustrated thinking, “Damn it! Where are all my books?!?!” Oh yes, they are in boxes, in the dank rafters of my grandma’s garage. The old fury lit within me and I got upset afresh. How could they have asked me to put my books there? So as I was sitting there thinking about it I started to wonder, am I the ONLY person in the world that feels like that? Am I the only person that cares that much about my books?
So please, tell me, am I it? Or are you as attached to your books? Maybe there is just one book. That one book, should it ever be lost/stolen/damaged, that you would freak out over. But please, someone tell me, don’t you feel the same way about your literary treasures?
**M for Pocket Owl Press**