I’ve always loved to read. (COOL STORY, right? Bear with me.) My mother used to drop me off at the library when I was 8 or 9 with an actual brown-bagged lunch, and I’d spend the day alone, tearing through book after plastic-covered book, like the wildly popular kid I so clearly was. (Have actually thought about this a lot lately and often wonder if that was appropriate? Leaving a youngish child unattended for a five-hour stretch in a public place? Eh, it was New Hampshire, I guess.*) Nowadays my time at the library is spent taking advantage of the free WiFi, and my time reading is limited to the five or so minutes I can keep my eyes open after crawling into bed—but, oh Lordy, what a glorious five minutes those are.
ANYWAY. I still love a good book — a good, made-of-paper book—but I really love to reread a good book. There are certain books I come back to each year, or every couple of years, depending on the season, maybe, or my general frame of mind. The Beach, for example: I’ve read that book, no joke, probably twenty times—whenever I need an adventure, or need inspiration to PLAN an adventure. Or The Catcher In The Rye, when I am feeling vaguely nostalgic for something I can’t quite put my finger on.
…OR the one I found myself thinking about this morning: A Moveable Feast. GAH. Hemingway’s memoir about his time as a young writer in 1920s Paris never fails to transform every gust of cold fall wind or bit of uncertainty I feel about life into something romantic and inspiring and necessary for us all to experience.
The whole damn book, for instance, elevates my, shall we say, enthusiasm for an alcoholic beverage of nearly any sort at nearly anytime of day to a vice specific to a true writer and/or bon vivant city-dweller (Hemingway’s eventual alcoholism not withstanding): “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”
It shows that I am not alone in my penchant for the dramatic, particularly when it comes to the seasons and the onslaught of winter (shudder)! “Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.” PART OF YOU DIED? So good. So true.
And it is filled with the kind of optimism you can only recognize as an older person who was once a younger person, maybe not leave-Nicole-alone-in-the-library young, but definitely just-moved-to-NYC young and maybe even mid-30s-with-an-infant young: “My,’ she said. ‘We’re lucky that you found the place.’ ‘We’re always lucky,’ I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood. There was wood everywhere in that apartment to knock on too.” Knowing how young Hemingway was in this book, and imagining how old he already felt he was in this book, and knowing how it all turned out for him in the decades of life still to follow fills me with some sort of desperate need to notice and appreciate and hold on to each and every aspect of my quiet little life as it is at this exact moment.
It makes me want to knock on wood.
ANYWAY, I DIGRESS. Pick up the book and re/read it with me and let’s text about it.
“…we would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.”
*Let it be known that I loved NOTHING MORE than my days at the library, because, as my mother noted to me in the comments, she was one “smart mama …to know you well enough to allow you to quench your thirst for adventure AND independence!” HEAR, HEAR. She really is the bee’s knees.