alycewilson (alycewilson) wrote,

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Letting Go

I grew up in a house filled with books. My parents, when they built the extension on the house before moving in, requested an entire wall of built-in shelves, which were always filled to overflowing. I had my own over-full bookcase in my room, as did my brother and sister. When we went through my Mom's estate, we discovered she'd added even more shelves, in every single room. It didn't quite look like a library, but it was obviously the home of a book lover.

Yet, despite how much Mom read, I don't remember her picking up books a second or a third time. Rather, I was the one who would often pull down her books on children's literature to look up lurid nursery rhymes and half-forgotten dark Grim Brothers tales. Except the the often-used cookbook shelf, most of them simply gathered dust. For decades. And then she adopted dozens of cats, and all those books became unusable.

I guess going through the experience has taught me a lot, and my thoughts on what I'm willing to get rid of have changed. Now that we are moving to a new apartment -- in a better school district -- we need to serious pare down our possessions. Aside from the poetry books and writing manuals that I often reference -- and my collections of comedy-related biographies and vampire books -- I am saying good-bye to a good number of books now that I might otherwise have wanted to keep. Even the shelves of books "to read later" are being sorted, as I have to admit that, much as I may have once intended to read "Women Who Run with the Wolves" and be a good feminist, or read the half dozen Bruce Sterling books someone gave me and be a good cyberpunk, I never actually feel like picking them up.

My final test when on the fence was the same thing I do in bookstores: open the book to a page and read. If what I see doesn't excite me enough to want to know more, it went in the donation box.

As we were going through things at our Mom's house, my sister kept reminding me, "Memories aren't in things; they're in us." It made it easier to part with objects that would have been destined to clutter up our homes the same way they had cluttered up hers.
Tags: deep thoughts, mom, moving

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