The painters are here. For the past seven years, there’ve been two patches of different purple paint on my bedroom wall. By the end of today or maybe the end of tomorrow, the walls will instead be a subtle grey neutral shade. I actually think the color is really appealing and I hope it’s going to look good with all my floors because the whole house will be that color, bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, kitchen, all of it.
I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s strange to be making the house so nice so that I can (eventually) hand the keys over to someone else. The last few days I’ve basically been cleaning everything that I can, taking down the pictures on the wall, stacking up the books in boxes in the garage or piles in my closet.
I should take a picture of my closet because the piles… well, I started putting just a few books in there. The ones that might be essential, the ones that maybe I couldn’t get rid of.
Some cookbooks. The Zuni Cafe cookbook that taught me so much, the Smitten Kitchen cookbook that my aunt gave me, the Perfect Recipe cookbook that I use every Thanksgiving.
And then the books that had just a little too much meaning. Not the ones that had so much too much meaning that there was no way I was getting rid of them — that tiny collection made it into my mom’s cedar chest. When I am 80 years old and living in an assisted living facility, I’ll be using a magnifying glass to read the copy of Winnie the Pooh that my parents gave me for my fourth birthday or the copy of The White Dragon that was an unexpected gift in sixth grade.
But the others.
The Hunger Games trilogy, because when the third book came out, it was delivered, of course, on the day of release. R came home from school to find me reading it. Every twenty minutes for the next two hours he came into my room and said, “Aren’t you done yet?” until finally, exasperated, I said, “Do you need me to go to Barnes & Noble and buy another copy so that you can start reading it now?” He said yes. He said Yes! My dyslexic boy, who I was told might never learn to read, would certainly never enjoy reading, couldn’t wait two hours longer to get his hands on Mockingjay. Do I need to keep the whole trilogy for that? Probably not. But the sight of the books spurs the memory and the memory brings me joy.
Some Dianna Wynne Jones books. I’ve owned them since I was young. They were some of the first books I bought for myself. I’ve carted them from place to place for decades, keeping them even when letting go of so many others. The complete works of Lois McMaster Bujold. Comfort food when I’m sick. The Mystic and Rider series by Sharon Shinn, I couldn’t say how many times I’ve reread them. A couple books by Ellen Emerson White that are, on the surface, light entertainment, but on a deeper level, are stories of psychological survival in the face of trauma.
These are not books that are going to fit in an RV.
So maybe I stick them in a box and let them live in my brother’s basement for a while, waiting for the day that I decide to give myself a new home base. Or maybe I give them to friends, trying to find them new homes with people who might love them. Or maybe I donate them to the library, letting chance and fate decide whether some stranger will discover something that delights them or whether they wind up in a landfill. Maybe, maybe…
It was just about a month ago that I decided to embark on this adventure. I remind myself regularly, almost daily, that I can change my mind. This is my decision, my choice. If it’s too hard, I don’t have to do it. But underneath all the fear and all the angst about things, objects, stuff, a drumbeat of excitement steadily thumps away. I have no idea what the future is going to bring me, but letting go of the past is the first step on the path to finding out. Someday, sooner rather than later, I’m going to eat a lobster in Maine, go grocery shopping in South Dakota, admire the Grand Canyon with my own eyes, watch the sun rise over a beach while I walk the dogs before settling down to write… and suddenly those piles of books don’t seem so big after all.
On the other hand, I do need to be able to afford gas to do all those things, which probably means I should go back to writing the words that might someday earn me my lunch money. Onward!