Books, my scorned lovers.
I was re-reading Marie Kondo’s book, “The Magical Art of Tidying Up” before my move last year from New York to California. A self identifying minimalist in all areas of my life (food, clothing, design, etc.) the book comforted me with its common sense approach to editing homes. I felt validated by what the author had to say and challenged people that could not abide by her life philosophy of letting things go.
That was…until I read the chapter about books. The pages were wrinkled with anxiety from my previous read years earlier. It’s the chapter where she politely suggests to limit yourself to only 50 books.
Now, a bit of backstory here: I am the son of two true bibliophiles. I grew up in a home surrounded by books and continued to live in - and create - homes that not only housed volumes, but celebrated them. Indeed, my personal philosophy is that the entire home should be a library, with a change of furniture and equipment from room to room for convenience. “Is that your Kitchen?”, a guest may ask when they enter my home. “It is my library/kitchen.”, I would smartly respond back.
So, there I am, preparing to move cross country and trying to lighten my load while cozily nestled in my library/home reading an authors suggestion to limit myself to 50 books. What is even stranger, is that is exactly what I did.
Now , i have to be honest. I didn’t (and will never) consider any volumes from my design library. It is invaluable to me and would NOT be a part of the death toll for this exercise. My focus, instead, was on my personal collection. Travel tomes, biographies of interesting people, the fables from my childhood - each a different narratives that I had held close and re-read a million times or new ones that I had purchased and was waiting for the perfect moment to savor. These were ones that were on the chopping block.
I went through them one by one and found myself taking pictures of some so as not to forget them. I did this through the night. When I woke up in the morning, with the sobriety of daylight, I went through them one last time and reviewed my decisions to make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes.
I now related to the hoarders that I had viewed with superiority on television, saying to myself “why can’t they just let that worthless shit go?”. How cavalier I had been. The pain is real when you let something go. It was like a break up. Our time had come. I wanted to say, ”It’s not you, it’s me”, as if that would make any difference - does it ever?
When I dropped the books off at the second hand store, I took a moment to hand over the box. Before I knew it, that transaction was done. My life had been pulled from my arms and now resided in a sea of other anonymous brown cartons. The deed was done.
It’s been a year. since that fateful day. I am happily living in my new home in Palm Springs. it’s a classic mid-century home full of light, the sultry fragrance of the desert, and the laughter of new friends.
The only thing that is missing is my books.
Books, my scorned lovers. I am sorry.