A Brief Affair
I rather enjoy hiding out when the world is noisy and mayhem ensues. The dizzying days leading up to Christmas encircling us like a spiral staircase, spinning, heady; is the perfect time to seek refuge. The brief days and long nights of winter. I like the focus night time brings, and as the darkness begins at 4.30...there is lots of it to be savoured.
The permission to sleep. The permission to rest. Delicious.
And what better way to curl up and slow down, then with a book. A wandering, wondering, wild tour of unknown territory; down the rabbit hole of wooly imaginings. Or deft learning.
Books are intimacies we explore, relationships we dive into, with a clear beginning, middle and end. A good book is like a great friend or love affair. One is always happy to see them and it's almost always equally hard to say good bye.
Bittersweet partings catch your breath.
At times constant companions, some you crack the cover and never put down again; others you flip through and push aside with disdain. Occasionally, you may even go through a stack at your bedside; on hand for a brief dalliance at your whim, unaffected if you are reading other tomes.
Some reread books many times.
Some never finish them.... Abandoned. Heartbroken. A cold shudder shimmies through you at the thought of unread pages.
The beginning, like a worthy courtship.
A flirtation catches your eye. A flashy cover perhaps. Alliteration, or a metaphor, you simply cannot resist. Curiousity builds, a mysterious attraction..." Why this story? Why not the one with the clever booksleeve? The promise of an exciting plot? " No, no, it's definitely the quiet, plain bookish one in the corner that appeals most.
Then comes the excitement of the first date!
Your thoughts preoccupied all day by the object of your affection, waiting anxiously for that bewitching hour to gently touch for the first time. Fingertips barely skim the smooth surface. The deep inhale for the smell of your new book. The first clean page turn. Shudders.
And, like many love affairs, the ending comes all too quickly.
The writing was on the wall, you could feel the relationship thinning out through your fingers, lopsided, top heavy, the foundation eroded.
Reflecting back, perhaps it was about the time you spilled tomato juice on it's pages, unable to forgive your carelessness; or the flashing, dynamic prose, once such a vibrant challenge to decipher, until it cruelly pointed out your stupidity. It's unpredictable nature left you ragged and tense.
Perhaps there was a crisis when they realized you were reading other books as well, and they weren't into your lending library lifestyle.
Regardless, however they end, closing a beloved book is a heartache.
Sensing the end is nigh results in sadness, stalling, avoidance.....
There is a mourning period. Forlorn regret, it is over. Even deep sorrow.
Weeks go by before one can even think of fondling another. Leafing through cheap paperbacks, a mere distraction. The wounds, the papercuts, the stains, torn pages, missing passages....what was it all about? You try and reread a chapter or two only to discover,
“I don't remember that! Or, I skipped this section it was too upsetting....”
When you are really lucky, there comes along an epic book, so beguiling, it holds you enraptured.
And yet, one can never regret the mis-education that some book folly brings. It makes you the avid, discerning reader you are today. Still passionate, still curious, longing for more learning.
No one ever forgets their favourite reads. Imprinted timelessly like fossils in our soul.
The end of each year part of my 'ring in the new' ritual is collecting a bevy of titles that thrill me.
What will you be reading this new year? What reading did you celebrate in 2016?
.....and by my bedside waiting patiently for me:
Beyond Words: what animals think and feel Carl Safina
Fearless Arianna Huffington
My Life on the Road Gloria Steinem
Sapiens: a brief history of humankind Yuval Noah Harari
Sublime, expansive, juicy, vexing reading to you all, in 2017! Happy New Year!!