Friday, March 13, 2009

Sending Pages Out to Dry

I've always liked the title of this story more than the text itself. I'm hoping that in retyping it and thinking about letting go of what is captured in words and between covers I will experience something new.

Most Saturdays I sleep late then spend the rest of the morning in bed reading and making a shopping list. But on this Saturday I was up and cleaning the coffee was half-dripped. By noon the floors in all four rooms were wet mopped and the living room rug vacuumed. I’d not remembered to eat, so I stopped cleaning.
But I didn’t read the book in my lap or eat the cheese sandwich, and the cup of coffee on the wide chair arm grew cold as I relished the look of my living room, now that I’d got rid of the cinder-block bookshelves.
My new bookshelves weren’t real wood. They were nothing expensive or fancy, but they were over six –feet tall and held, in addition to all my books double-stacked, the little doodads and framed photographs; the old cheese box covered in stiff red Chinese paper; and the long trailing ivy. The new shelves made the room very cozy and pulled-together.
Still, something seemed wrong, again.

In the bottom of one bookcase is a set of doors hiding two deep shelves. I’d stacked my journals in there, all fifty-five of them. And as I sat with Gone With the Wind (the paperback I’d bought soon after arriving in Atlanta from New York, to make the natives think I was one of them) and the uneaten sandwich and cold coffee, the doors to the bookcase, not very secure, opened and one of the diaries fell out.
I rose and pushed it back in, slamming the door fast, but just as my hand let go, the doors opened again and three more books fell to the floor.
Just yesterday, the fifty-five books had been in their own suitcase. They’d lived in the antique trunk I received for my twentieth birthday thirteen years ago; in the pine chest Grandpa made in the late 1940s. I’d even kept them on open shelves, which had been a mistake because people would read them. Or try to. They’d been in boxes under the bed. They had eventually outgrown every spot.
Now I took them all back out of the bookcase and piled them around me on the red rug. “Why don’t you just burn the bunch of them?” I thought.
But the books represented my whole life and while I often wondered how I’d get them out in case of fire, I’d never dreamed of purposely destroying them. But what if I did destroy them? What if I could and if I could, what would happen to me? If I really missed having these journals, I could rewrite them and then I’d have a distillation of the last twenty years. Wouldn’t that be something?

to be continued


Anonymous said...

I don't see how you could ever destroy your journals. They're a story of a life. Your life. I wish I had possessed the self-discipline to journal for so long. There is so much that I have forgotten or the details are fuzzy - did it really happen that way or am I remembering it the way I wanted it to happen. I'll never know but you have a time machine all gassed and ready to go right there in your bookcase. The keys are in the igniton all the time. Lucky you Alicia. BYW, my life story has had a great cast of characters but so far I haven't been able to figure out the plot.

ABG said...

It's fiction. i still have the journals.
if you need a plot, just kill someone on page 25 and work from there.

Anonymous said...

Whew!!!!!! I don't know why but it made me feel good to see that you really weren't thinking of destroying them. Too many temporary things in the world today, products, relationships, etc. We all need a tap root to yesterday so we can grow into tomorrow.