Sunday, March 15, 2009

through a past, lightly

I should have started a lottery on what the photograph above represents.

The answer is: my destiny.

What looks like the office of an aspiring junior professor at a midwestern university is actually my quarters in England while serving in the Air Force. But the details are telling.

You cannot see the large book case off to the left. But it is obvious that it is brimming with books because the overflow is evident on every flat surface in the room.

What is a 27-year old single military officer doing in such surroundings? The first explanation is more excuse than reason. I was working on my master's degree in international relations at the time. That helps to explain all of the military and law titles.

But the real reason is that I simply love books. I am writing this post in my library, surrounding by many of the same books in the photograph.

I use my library far less than I once did. The internet has had a large impact on that. I can now find facts far easier than I once could in my reference books.

But I am old enough and hedonistic enough that I get pleasure from the feel and smell of books.

That will be one of the things that I truly miss about moving south -- leaving my books behind.

You can also see the nascent pieces of my art collection there on the left. I still have them, and they have a favored place on my wall.

But here is the irony. As much as I will miss the books, I will not miss the art collection. And I do not know why. It is possible that I have collected pieces that simply do not reflect what I enjoy. Who knows? But it will soon be disbursed. And I will not mind.

Bit by bit. Life changes.


jennifer rose said...

There is absolutely no need to leave the books behind. Many, many expatriates permitted their library to follow them to Mexico -- some by packing the library up in the moving van, and some by simply mailing the books.

Books don't grow on trees, you know. And they're rarer than hen's teeth in these parts. Reconsider that decision to jettison them.

Steve said...

Jennifer -- For now the books will rest in my house-sat house -- until I get around to selling it. Then I will need to make a decision on where they (and the other detritus of my life) will go. Until I decide when (and if) I want to set up house in an area of Mexico, all of my bulky possessions will remain in Salem. I am looking forward to not being tied down to possessions. We will see how long that lasts.

Michael Warshauer said...

I culled out my least interesting cookbooks before we moved to Mexico. Then my two or three favorites, ancient and tattered, were replaced with new copies. It was well worth it. I use them frequently.

Other books we can get at the Bibloteca Bocanegra, where there's a growing English language shelf. Of course, most of those are detective and romance novels.

Steve, I'm wondering what the warm, moist salt air at Melaque might do to books. Maybe "Sparks" might know.
He's been there several years now.


Anonymous said...

Would you know of the author,
Joseph Epstein?
He once said, upon culling out his extensive library, almost chucking it all, that he was realizing and ready for "learning in ways besides reading", or something close to that.
Also, Helene Hanff...she was enormously well-read and self-taught, and she felt nothing of
chucking books out the door.
Seems like you might be at this point also.
Powell's Books online ain't going anywhere.

Steve said...

Mike -- I am going to drag along a few of my regular cook books -- and some newly-acquired diabetic cook books. Books do not thrive on the Mexican coast. Between mold and burrowing insects, there is always something out to reduce paper to its component parts. Sparks can probably verify that.

Charley -- Powell's wil always be there. But when I want a book, I want it at hand. I just may need to learn patience.