There are certain memories that we cherish. Ones that no other person in the world can take away or really diminish, tarnish or destruct. Tender markers of youth, a moment shared between lovers, or the birth of a child.
I have always loved rare books. The smell of central libraries that have been in the same building for 50 years, with their paper bound editions and sometimes even better, leather. I love the dust jackets touched a million times over but still sturdy strong and smelling of glue and something older I can’t name.
When I was little the first old book I got was the So-So Cat by E.Hurd. I thought it was a magical book, and even before I had my very own copy I checked it out almost every time we went to the library from about the time I was three. The Great Neck Library was the best in the world. There was always something there for children to do, and those big banana chairs that rocked (something IKEA would absolutely sell now) were the best thing to lay on and read. It was a race every saturday morning to get there early enough to grab one for afternoon squatting. The Princess Ann Park was right down the road and when we had our books in hand, Mom and I would head over for a sandwich, a sit under the trees, and an hour more or so of book time. You can see why this was a great childhood memory for me. Princess Ann, was actually a few years later where I would encounter natural fibers, arts fairs and be in my very first commercial.
When I was about five or six, a weekend visit started with the Yearly Library Sale. All old editions five ten and twenty cents. I ran to the children’s row of tables. I knew what I wanted to find there. The edition that I checked out over and over. The edition that had all my dates, all my stamps, all the passing moments of my very young years, sitting on the ground in a box marked Halloween. It was there. I picked it up to make sure, three glued on papers of dates, one that read “Hold for Charity”. My book. I did not even have to ask my mother, she actually smiled.
That book went around the world with me. Each destination it was lovingly packed with a few others and carted everywhere. On the birth of my child (and even before as I read to her in Utero), I read this book the most. Her doodles would fill a few pages with little stars or a happy face. She at one point would cause a page to be removed but it was taped in again no issues.
My book was later destroyed by someone not so nice. My book was ripped and while not my life and simply just a book, it was the one little piece of myself i had carried for 30+ years through out my life to hold my memories. I even had a cat that passed this year, on my birthday named So-So. So little so black .. she was my So-So cat. Even my daughter had her own memories, “remember when we read it on Halloween and you did the scary voice!?”.
To say its destruction hurt would be passing it off to a lesser honor than deserved. It took my breath away and part of my life. I vowed, from then on I would find more editions.Tucked in a garage sale – yard sale – library sale, I would buy them. I have really started looking and mentioned it in conversation to Monster. We were talking about our love for old books. This was a month ago or more. He went out that week and bought me a copy. He found one.
I wont steal his thunder or take away from our moment, because the fun we were having was ours alone. What happened however took my breath away again, but it gave me back life. He had brought some treats from home and made me close my eyes and guess. Several I got right. When the book was placed in my hands, I knew it was old. I could smell it. I would have never guessed when I opened my eyes, it was my book.
I cried. I cried like I havent cried in a very long time. Not because of anything other than the fact my heart was heard, my heart is healed and today its beating so much faster. I will make him read it again today then put it on the mantle in the living room.