Reading Other People’s Books Reminds Me of the People I Love

I have a house full of books.  I believe in new books, that smell when you crack the spine for the first time and the fresh ink hits your nose.  I believe in being careful with books and sometimes, I think you must write all over them in order to tell yourself later what you thought right then when you hit these words that time you had that pen in your hand.

Lately, I’ve been reading books other people loan me and I find it kind of distracting.  I see the places the pages have been folded to mark a spot and I wonder what it was that stopped the book’s owner there–a phone call, sleep, someone coming up the steps.

That’s the thing about reading someone else’s book.  It’s always haunted by that other reader–a phantom thumb that bends the page farther up than mine, a wider palm that sets the pages between the thumb and end finger farther apart.

I want the things I observe to teach me lessons and so I tell you stories about the things I observe, hoping that, by the time I get done writing about them, some moral will be obvious, reason will become clear, coincidence will be given motivation.

But really, sometimes, you can just forego that.  You can stop wondering what it means, if anything.

Not forever, mind you.

But for long enough.

I’m done looking for explanation.

I am who I am and you are who you are.  I don’t get it and it fills me with a lot of relief to admit that.

I have no idea why you’re so fucked up.  I have no explaination for why you show up when you do and what you’re hoping to get out of it.  I don’t know what I can do to ease your discomfort and so I’m going to stop guessing.

There’s nothing to understand.  Each takes what he can from the tiny bit he is given.  Even me.

"These fragments I have shored against my ruins"

"Datta.  Dayadhvam.  Damyata.

                                                           Shantih shantih shantih"


How It Went

  • I found my mom upstairs crying because she’s convinced that I will never get my car door fixed.

  • My dad refused to take a shower, because he didn’t have a towel in his room and he shouldn’t have to ask where they are.

  • My dad is also convinced that I am going to die like some football player.  I wasn’t paying attention to who he was telling this to, so I’m not sure what football player it is.

  • My mom left me hair products that she bought but didn’t like.  Rather than saying that she was leaving them, she just hid them in my bathroom.

  • My dad reiterated his wish to have me keep his skeleton after he’s dead and his wish that my mom be cremated.

  • No word from my mom about what she’d like done with herself.

  • Both of my parents are convinced that we’re neglecting to take Mrs. Wigglebottom to the vet even though she has had diarrhea for a week.  I explained to them that she’s only had it when they’re around, so perhaps if they stopped feeding her crap, she’d be okay, because, once they leave, she’s fine.

  • My dad proudly proclaimed that if there was a prize for Instigator of Things, he would win it.  I said they’d probably just have to go ahead and name the prize after him instead of giving it to him, because otherwise no one else would ever get a chance.

But, on the other hand, no one yelled, no one cried (except the weird crying bout over the car), and no one pretended to be a homeless Korean war vet in order to have an excuse to sit in the back yard and drink.  So, all in all, I think it was a pretty successful visit.

I wish I had something profound or insightful to say about it, but I really don’t.  I don’t know what to make of them.

Putt Putt Golf

Y’all!  What a weird evening.  We were trying to figure out what the four of us could do, since the parents don’t drink and don’t like to sit in smoky bars and the Butcher and I don’t like to sit around and listen to them lecture us on all the ways we could fix the house.

The Butcher thought we should go bowling.

But my dad recommended putt putt golf.  And so we went.  And it was a hoot.  It was weird, don’t get me wrong, but it was fun.  And then they bought us groceries and the Butcher bought us Dairy Queen.

Well, what do you know?