There are times in my life when books were better friends to me than people. Books are always there for me anytime of the day or night. They have never slept with my boyfriend, posted something nasty about me on FB, or called me fat behind my back. I’ve always been a reader. I was raised as an only child and was very lonely. I turned to books (and to my own imagination) for entertainment. The best summer of my life was when my mother drove the county’s bookmobile. I wish I had kept a journal of everything I read back then.
My dad stills teases me about the time I was ‘helping’ him split wood for our fireplace. My job was to sit on a chair and push the lever on the automatic wood splitter. Dad had the hard job of loading the wood into the machine and tossing the pieces aside. I brought a book to read while I worked. When Dad looked up and saw my book in one hand and the other hand running the enormous, fast moving blade his face turned white and he yelled at me. Something he reserved for fender benders and drunken carousing.
At the time I thought he was so mean. I’m sure you can imagine that I have A LOT of books in my house. Recently I spent two days trying to purge some of them. It was so difficult. I found boxes of forgotten books in storage. It was like going down Memory Lane. There was my old friend Owen Meany. I read it when I was recouping from surgery and then every year afterwards. This was at least the 3rd copy I owned as others were loaned out and never returned. There was my dog-eared copy of Gone with the Wind – another book that I read over and over again. It was in my suitcase when the love of my life abandoned me at Super America.
Wish I was kidding about that. Ah! Pamela DeBarres’ I’m With The Band. The cover is barely hanging on. I must have read it 5 times back in college. I found all of my Kitty Kelly biographies. Without them I wouldn’t have known that Frank Sinatra’s mother performed abortions in her house and that Nancy Reagan had an affair with him. I discovered the Flowers In The Attic series. I bought the first one on a family beach vacation at some impossibly young age – 3rd grade? 4th? – I have no idea how those escaped my mother’s censoring eyes.
I could go on and on. I sat amid my piles of friends. How was I ever going to let them go? I didn’t really have room to keep them when our shelves are already bursting with books. What did I do? I scooped up a dozen or two of The TO’s books and stuffed them in a garbage bag to make room for my besties. I haven’t touched any of my treasures since. But I know they’re there if I ever need them. Just like a true best friend.