You’ve heard me say time and again that I love reading and I love books. And I love having books around. It gives me pleasure just to see them, let alone to hold them and feel their weight in my hand. To smell the ink. To feel the texture of the paper.
The sight of bookcases filled to overflowing is comforting to me. So are tables piled high with them.
I love looking at all the different books I’ve read and I love seeing the stacks I haven’t yet started, but are there, waiting for me.
So you’ll understand what I mean when I tell you that my resolve was really tested last week. There was a huge book sale for two days last week (Thursday and Friday) at the Toronto Reference Library. And I mean huge. Books of all kinds, literally being given away, they charge so little for them.
And I didn’t go.
Not because I didn’t want to. Oh no, in fact, staying away was harder for me than giving up smoking was 20-something years ago. And I was a two-pack-a-day smoker.
It’s just that I’m out of room. Well, I suppose there is still some floor space available. But I think my cleaning lady would throw in the towel if I make it any more difficult for her to do her job.
When I got the email about the sale my heart started to pound, I swear. I immediately put the dates into my calendar, and programmed alerts to make sure I didn’t forget. Yes I know, a psychiatrist would probably have a field day with me.
On Thursday I had a client meeting at 11 a.m. I got up bright and early and was dressed and ready to leave by 9:00 so I could go to the sale on my way. I talked myself off the ledge, reminding myself of my promise not to go. I thought about what I was missing the whole time I was with the client.
“I’m so close to the library,” I said to myself when I left his office. “I could just pop over there right now.” Gritting my teeth I called a friend and said I was coming over for a visit. I told her about the sale, half hoping she’d tell me to go — which, of course, she did not do. What kind of a friend would tell an addict to go ahead and indulge in her addiction?
But there was still Friday to get through. As soon as I woke up I did a tour around my apartment, standing in front of my bookcases desperately looking for any potential space, any possibility for re-arranging. Alas, there was none. Grocery shopping it was.
By the time I returned home I told myself it was too late to go, that most of the books would have been snapped up by others, that it was no longer worth going. Hey, it worked, I stayed home.
Part of me is impressed with how disciplined I was, how I resisted all the urges to go, how I could ignore the vision of myself wandering around from table to table, fondling the covers, flipping the pages, reading the book jackets, having whispered conversations with all the other book lovers, deciding which ones were coming home with me, paying for them and then going back for just a couple more.
Shit, it’s killing me.