Since I haven’t been writing lately, I’ve been painting instead. Including three entries in a neat little book we picked up at the DMA, 104 Things to Paint. Its pages are all divvied up with neat little subjects like falling from the sky, french fries and ketchup, and arrows.
So maybe I haven’t.
Anyway, he gave me a five-year memory book at the beginning of the year. It has 366 dated and lined pages, with five spots per page to fill in the year. My mission is to return it when it’s full of memories.
Obviously, I’m nearly a third of the way through for the first time. This year it’s a journey of optimism; of looking forward to the future and wondering what I will write on this day in the four years to come.
Of reading the things I have written, five years from now, and remembering them for the first time in a week or a month or five years.
I imagine it will feel like reading the post from my five-year blogoversary earlier this evening, when I searched my archives for journal and five year while trying to find out if I’ve told you about this book. Two years of posting every day is coming up, and then there’s another four years of sporadic posting before that, so why would I remember my 1,063rd post? I wouldn’t; I didn’t.
But it was nice to re-read and reminisce.
And it was nice to think about how far along I’ve come–have I passed a million words yet? In my life, certainly. Since I’ve been writing here? I don’t know. That’s 457 a day. But minus the 200k+ from four NaNoWriMos, it’s only 365 a day.
I don’t know. But it’s interesting to break it down this way.
I’m pretty sure this week, the week of our anniversary, will be the most fun to re-read. We have big plans for future vacations. But it will all be cool, even the days I stayed in my pajamas playing Breath of the Wild and we did rock-paper-scissors to see who was going to get out of the house to gather Pokéstops to keep our streaks going.
Btdubs, I highly recommend Breath of the Wild. It’s in the memory book quite a bit since it came out.
- Jimmy DiResta
- So Delicious Coconut flavor nondairy frozen dessert
- Milka Oreo Big Crunch Bar
- Nautica pajamas
- The Secret History
“Let’s go to the thrift store,” Tracy suggested, a twinkle in her eye.
Adam nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.”
Socked and shoed and smartphones in hand, Adam locked their apartment door behind them as they set out on their daily adventure.
“What goodies do you think we’ll find?” Tracy asked. “We haven’t been in weeks. I hope they have some books I’d like, and maybe a pair of shoes for you.”
Adam nodded. “Don’t spend our pennies just yet, hon. My shoes are still perfectly good.”
They joined hands and moseyed down the block. The thrift store was just around the corner, three streets down. Tracy dodged a freshly spit chunk of gum, and Adam had a near miss with a wad of chewing tobacco, but they made it to their destination unscathed.
“Out of business?” they exclaimed in unison, reading the sign taped to the door.
“That’s so sad,” said Tracy. “I loved this place. We both did!”
“I know,” Adam agreed. “But it happens. Let’s keep walking and see where we end up. Maybe grab a bite to eat or something. We’ll find another store.”
They walked together another two blocks, and Tracy was still shaking her head at the store going out of business.
“Look!” Adam pointed across the street.
Tracy immediately brightened. It wasn’t the same store, but she could see the same old lady behind the cash register. They looked both ways and crossed to admire Adam’s discovery.
He pushed the door, and the bell tinkled brightly to announce their entry.
“Mrs. Watson, I’m so glad to see you!” Tracy greeted the older woman warmly. “What happened?”
Mrs. Watson shook her head sadly. “It just wasn’t paying the bills, honey,” she answered. “I was at least able to sell most of my inventory and move in with my son, and then I saw this store was looking for help. I offered them a good deal on what I had left, and they hired me on to keep the shop during the day.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear it worked out, for the most part,” offered Adam.
“Thank you, honey,” Mrs. Watson answered. “You two have a look around. There’s lots that I’ve never seen before here. And you know I’ve seen a lot!” She chuckled.
The pair began to peruse the ancient bookshelves lining the walls of the store, Adam checking out the knick knacks and mismatched china sets while Tracy lovingly ran her fingers along the spines of the books lined up on display.
Suddenly Tracy paused with a gasp. Slowly she reached up and pulled one volume off the shelf right in front of her eyes. She stared down at it for a moment, simply feeling the realness of the cover. Adam glanced over and saw that she had something in her hands, so he joined her.
“What did you find?” he asked.
“It’s–it’s my favorite book. I don’t even remember how many times I read this when I was a kid. I haven’t seen it anywhere in years, and it’s been out of print forever. My grandmother gave it to me, and–” Tracy’s jaw dropped. She had opened the cover and frozen.
Adam watched her closely. “Well, what is it?”
A smile spread across Tracy’s ace as she turned the book so he could see. “It’s my book.”
And sure enough, Adam read the inscription, written in a spidery, faint hand: To my favorite granddaughter Tracy, on her fifth birthday. I love you, Grandma. He wiped away Tracy’s tear with his thumb and led her to Mrs. Watson’s cash register.
“I can’t take money for your own things, honey,” said Mrs. Watson.
As Tracy was still speechless, Adam thanked her and then guided his girlfriend home. She never loosened her grip on the book, or lessened her smile.
I don’t know the first time I entered a bookstore. I can’t even guess. I’m sure it happened plenty; my mother has hundreds and hundreds of books, and they’re not all Book of the Month editions that came in the mail.
But a certain visit to a bookstore comes to mind when I think about it.
I was ten years old; my next door neighbor and best friend was eleven. We were both in fifth grade at the Laboratory School across the street from our apartment building, and our teacher had just that week mentioned Anne Frank. I don’t remember what I learned in class; that part doesn’t stick out in my mind at all.
What sticks out is that trip to the used bookstore. We’d gone downtown to have a look around, all by ourselves; I can’t imagine that happened now, but this was in the 80s, so I guess it was a bit different then. And our single mothers were weary college students, so maybe we got a little more freedom than we should have.
I was the first to pick up the book, and held it up to show Jennifer. This was probably my first experience witnessing a jaw drop–her eyes widened and she gasped a short, sharp breath of excitement. She practically snatched the book from my hands, even though I was already offering it to her, for her to see, you know. Not for her to take and purchase and read and love and all of those good things that come when you find a treasure in the used book store.
She took the book from my hand, and she acted out the most cliched performance I had ever seen in my life until that point, and probably for quite a few years afterwards. She put her grubby paws on either side of the poor little paperback and lifted it up as if she were going to kiss it, then quickly lowered it to her chest in a bear hug. She swayed back and forth a couple of times, treasuring the slim volume.
I might take this time to add that we both idolized our fifth grade teacher; she wasn’t just a teacher, she was a doctor. in retrospect, she was an excellent teacher.
I might also add that the initial volume that I selected was a lovely hardcover version of Anne Frank’s Diary. It was in excellent condition, something that I already well understood; valuing books came to me quite well.
Jennifer announced that she was purchasing this book, and I opened my mouth to point out that I’d found it, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to make the statement aloud, to my older, taller friend. I was a shy, timid child, and a lot of that is still with me today. I couldn’t stand up to my friend that day.
I looked again at the shelves next to us, and found an old, tattered copy of the Diary, the cover nearly falling off, the page ends ruffled and ratty, the corners either dogeared or missing. I gazed longingly at the pristine copy in Jennifer’s hands, and resigned myself to reading this far-beyond-secondhand copy.
She led us to the register, practically skipping in her joy. I was moderately upset; upset with myself for being too afraid to say anything, upset with her for not paying attention to the fact that I had been the one to find the book, upset with our teacher for assigning the book, upset with Anne Frank for writing the damn thing in the first place and causing this whole mess.
It sounds horribly melodramatic, but truth be told, I was a horribly melodramatic child. I was told too early and too often how smart I was, but I was also shown early and often how worthless I was, so I had a lot to make up for with my few words and actions.
That was a bitch move of Jennifer to take my book, though.
i told thefeatheredsleep that I was going to join her in a challenge she was assigned a few days ago, so here we are.
I’m going to write for five minutes on the book that changed my life.
But I don’t know which book to choose!
I do. I’ve just thought of it.
But I don’t remember the name of it. I’ll look it up after the timer goes off.
A couple years ago I was going through a bad patch. I was severely depressed, no interest, no energy, nothing. I nested, and that’s about it. I couldn’t even read.
And then, finally, I started reading these books my sister sent me, and they were good. They held my interest. They gave me interest. They helped me be myself again. That’s pretty significant.
I’d never written an author before, but after I finished reading the Night Angel trilogy (I remembered!), I did. I wrote Brent Weeks, and I told him what he had done for me. I was grateful and eloquent and fangirly, and he never responded.
I didn’t exactly expect a response, but I’d love to know whether or not he read my letter. And I should have copy/pasted it; since I sent it on his site, I don’t even have the thing saved anywhere.