I’ve had to look through my life these past few weeks. Peeling through the layers of memory to determine what I can keep and what I can throw away. Everything I have has a memory that I can’t separate from. It’s very difficult for me to throw things away. I have to look at it and categorize it several times before I let it go. Books are especially difficult for me to let go. I had to give away books I’ve had since I was a child; this has brought me a great deal of anxiety.
Books have always been special to me. One of my first memories is of the library. I would look at the walls and walls of words that I wanted to possess. I wanted to absorb those pages and have them become a part of me. I loved to look at the pretty gold binding of the story books; the ones that told me about the pokey little puppy and the monster at the end of the book. I counted the days when I could have my own library card. I had to wait until I was five. When I was five I would possess the golden card that allowed me to take from my favorite building as many books as I could carry. How I waited! When that day came, I remember walking into the library and approaching the desk where the lady stood. “I would like a library card please. I turned five, and I can have a card when I’m five”, I said. My mother smiled at me and the lady. “Alright”, the lady said. “Go find the books you want, and I will give you the card when you are done”, the lady said.
I ran to the children’s sections and grabbed as many books as I could carry. My mother asked me if I was sure I would be able to read so many books. I assured her I would. Truthfully, I didn’t care. I just wanted to hold them in my arms so I could pretend that they were mine- at least they would be for two weeks. I walked to the desk, and placed them all in front of the lady. She laughed and smiled at my mother. She asked my name and where I lived. I looked at my mother to make sure it was ok to tell her. When my mother nodded her approval, I told the lady, and she wrote it on the card. She handed me the card. It was mine! I had my own card and my own library number! That was the happiest day of my life
Books were my first friends-my only friends. They never disappointed me or made me feel worthless or stupid. They never called me ugly or fat or clumsy. They brought me to fairytale lands and other dimensions. I went through a wardrobe and met a lion and a prince. I had a friend named Stewart Little who let me ride in his boat with him. I sat on a windowsill with Francie Nolan and planted tulips with Mary Lennox. I traveled to England and Middle Earth, New York City and lived on the Prairie. I have wonderful memories.
I’m still that way with books. I can’t go into a Barnes and Noble anymore. It’s too tempting to me. When I walk in the library, my intent is only one book, but I walked out with three or four instead. I can’t help myself. I’ve had to give away so many of my books. I am losing my apartment because I can’t afford it any longer. I have to move in with a family member and they don’t have enough room for me And my books. This has caused me a great deal of anxiety. I feel like my memories are being fragmented. Some are at a used bookstore and some are at Goodwill and The Salvation Army. I may have a roof over my head but I feel like the walls are caving in.