Well, I guess that is true for everything I write here, but I am afraid of offending others, having recently done so without knowing it, so this place is the only place left for me. I am recovering from the shame of being an asshole. And oblivious. And stupid and careless and, seriously, how could I fail to see what a fuck-up I am.
I am thinking about books. I divested a ton of them more than a year ago, and when I had to flee earlier this year I had to let the rest go, save for two small boxes. Even then, I struggled with keeping any because I simply did not have anywhere to go, nowhere to settle and no means to provide anything for myself. Yeah, boring, sad story and I am pretty much over the whole thing, even though I am told that I am not addressing some core issues regarding the abuse and all the rest. Baby steps.
I like to read...anything. Literally. Pun intended. Always have. There are countless books that I will never live long enough to read. I have read more than most people have, but that is only because, well, it was one of the more revelatory moments I had last year during the big divestment.
I realized that part of reading was a twisted and desperate attempt to find my story. The one I had, my life story, was not so nice and I devoured page after page, tome after tome, trying to find a story with which I could make sense or meaning about why I was even here. Fiction, sure, but embarrassing amounts of self-help books, trying to fix myself so that I would find a way to be perfect. It seemed my only path to survival, particularly as an adult, a married woman, a wife. I know now that I was chosen for marriage because I could be used and manipulated. For all that reading, I remained more stupid than anyone deserves to be. Just plain stupid.
Reading was my safe place as a child. Denial of reading material was the penultimate punishment. Leaving behind my books this year is one of my greatest sorrows in a year of suffering. I am certain that there are some vital life lessons for me in just the loss of the books alone. I hope that this is not perceived as a complaint or that I am being a big, old downer, but it holds enormous energy for me and dealing with this is an important aspect of my healing.
That said, any kind of mythology gave me strength. The simple process of reading and learning about beliefs going back to the near beginnings of civilization fed my mind, my soul and my own beliefs in something greater than myself and my environment. I attended a small, county parochial school and once I had exhausted the books in the classrooms and the tiny library, the nuns, the nice ones (and, yes, back then there were nice nuns) shared books from their own library.
However, there was one book from which I remembered a particular story. Something about a ring around the moon. Faeries, wee folk, woodland citizens. I obsessed about it, even though I could not be certain that I was remembering it correctly. When I was in my twenties I came across a book and recognized the illustrator as the person who did the images in that other book. Now I knew I was on to something.
More time passed and I finally thought I found it. Not the book, because it was out of print, but I had the illustrator's name and a renewed hope that I would find it during endless prowling through used book stores, rummage and yard sales, even the annual book sales conducted by libraries.
Then, in 1998, whilst working at the bookstore, right around the winter holidays, I was looking for something else in the catalog on the computer and had a moment and typed the illustrators name into the data base and there it was. Sight unseen, I ordered ten copies. When they arrived at the store I kept a couple on the counter and showed the book to many of my favorite customers. To my surprise and delight, it was the long-lost favorite childhood book of several of them. One woman began jumping and shrieking as she held it in her hands.
I let her buy my copy, and ordered more. It stayed in print for a while and then it could no longer be ordered and I had to stop telling people about it. I dispersed my copies to a couple of my siblings, a couple of friends and my daughter, who despite my sporadic searching for this book during her entire life was surprisingly ambivalent about having her own copy. Oh, she was gracious and all, but it was not nearly the thrill for her as it was for me. Since it seems to have been one of the favorite of so many people, it has come back into print again, but I have this nagging feeling that I might have the book, but maybe the reprints are not exactly the same as the original. Maybe.
Now, my memory did mix up my recollection of the actual poem and a couple of the illustrations. Either that, or, as I sometimes suspect, I have not yet found the precise book. The illustrator is dead, so I can not ask him, and the publishing company has been sold, reorganized, resold, and no one there anymore knows anything.
I have my copy, and it interests me sufficiently to keep on looking for a copy from the original printing. I have recently found what I think is the original version, at least it has a slightly different title and a different front cover. So, I am ordering one. Yay! I really should be more carefully stewarding my money, but, gosh, double-yay!!!!!
I know how little and insignificant this is, but it makes me happy, the search and all. A place to focus when reality gets a bit too intense. These are baby steps as well.