Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Wonder What I Collect?

**Apologies for the late post, all!

When I think of the word “collection,” the first thing that springs to mind is Jack Donaghy loading his cookie jars onto a semi while his slimy Private Investigator grins creepily.  (30 Rock?  Anyone?)  If that’s our definition of “collection,” then I have to say I collect Thomas the Tank Engine trains and Legos.  I sometimes feel as though my life has been taken over by tiny poky pieces of plastic that lie menacingly in wait on the floor, just waiting for a bare foot to maul.

But, as our fellow wonderers have noted, dust-collecting tchotchkes are NOT our rigid definition of “collection.”  The term is much more fluid, and could encompass a number of things in my life, including photos, recipes, and little boys.  (I have quite a gorgeous collection of little boys, let me tell you – hence the trains and Legos.)  There is one thing I definitely have a large number of, the thing that my husband would jettison as fast as possible if he were in charge (he is NOT).  And that thing, dear readers, is books.

My husband loves to read, don’t get me wrong.  But he’s a minimalist.  He loves to read books from the library and then give them back.  He hates stuff, no matter what form that stuff comes in, and when he married me, he also married about forty boxes of books.  I have the entire Nancy Drew collection, as well as all the Anne of Green Gables books, the Chronicles of Narnia, Little House, Harry Potter, Trixie Belden.  I have every novel I was assigned in middle school and high school lit classes, and many of my college textbooks as well.  I have teen, pre-teen, and early childhood novels, classic literature and trashy horror, some sci fi, some fantasy, lots of Robert Heinlein and Terry Pratchett.  At one time I counted and had over 500 books, and I regularly re-read at least half of those.  I’m a reader, and books are my companions in life – I’ve lugged these pages from California to Louisiana to Australia to England to North Carolina to Indiana to . . . everywhere.  They’re my constant, and I love knowing they’re in my house, ready for me to flip through whenever I care to.

When we first moved to Louisiana, we had limited space in the house.  Our two tall (cheap Wal Mart) bookshelves were double stacked, and books were piled in several other places as well.  So I bit my tongue and took a hard look, and pulled out all of my teen horror books that I’d collected during high school.  I put them in a box, remembering that one time I scared myself silly reading Richie Tankersley Cusick’s “The Lifeguard” in the dark of my bedroom, and had to come out and sit with my parents in the light for a while.  I remembered Christopher Pike’s “Remember Me,” and weeping when the teenaged main character (a ghost trying to solve her own murder) can’t talk to her loved ones because she has died.  I could still see in my mind’s eye the terrible final tableau described in “Trick or Treat,” and remember the dead girl in the locker from a Mike and Ally series of books (that turned out to only have a couple in the series – I guess they didn’t sell).  I sighed, recalling how feverishly I collected these books, two or three at a time over Christmas and birthdays.  When I saw a book-shaped package, I would lose my mind with excitement.

In September of 2009, I put them in a Goodwill box and dropped them off somewhere in New Orleans.  And I’m here to tell you that I regret it.  I shouldn’t have done that.  I still think about it with sorrow.  Maybe that makes me crazy, but these books were a constant in a life that was not at all seamless, and I miss knowing they are comfortably tucked in a bookshelf, ready for me to glance over and remember what being fifteen felt like.

So the rest of my collection is staying put.  We had a couple of enormous built-in bookshelves included in our house plan, and they are filled up with all of our books.  My husband has learned to stop grousing about them.

And my collection of little boys is learning to read them.


Wicked M said...

Oh, books. I have so many and have gotten rid of so many that I now regret. I'm jealous of your storage option of the bookcase!

MSO Rin said...

Christopher Pike! R.L. Stine! YES!

I had a feeling books would be your thing. :)