Sweet Memory

Don't know why this came to me, and this post is not in keeping with my blog style of photo walks and photos.

But, it came forcefully to mind, so here it is.

An early memory - one of many revolving around reading - takes me back to second grade when my family had moved from California to the suburbs of Boston for an "extended" business trip, as my dad called it, where he worked in MIT's Draper Lab for two years.

We kids, specifically my older brother Donald, me, and a couple of friends, spent a lot of time on our bikes exploring.

Long-ago memories are like foggy dreams, but some memories put down roots. This is one of those.

There was a warehouse of books somewhere near where we lived. It was in an industrial part of town. I had a teacher who recognized my love of books and told me about the place. It must have been some sort of distribution center for bookstores, because it was huge and full of shelves upon shelves of multiple copies of books. They did, however, sell books there as well, but it was nothing like a traditional bookstore.

After my teacher told me about the place, my brother - who was extremely dyslexic and no lover of books - and his friend, Mark, rode over there with me. Soon we were wandering down the rows upon rows of books, me dreaming about buying them so I could read them, while my brother and Mark played hide-and-seek and ran around. Surprisingly, no one stopped us or told us to knock it off.

I was after a particular book - one my teacher recommended.


As I wandered the aisles, someone took notice and asked if I needed help. By then, I wasn't sure where my brother and Mark had gotten off to.


I told the woman what I was looking for, and she told me to follow.


I chased after her down one aisle and then another and another, her heels clickity-clacking against the cold cement floors. Finally, she stopped and took a closer look, running her finger along the spines of the books.


"Here," she said. "Here it is." She pulled the book down and handed it to me.

I was 7 years old and already enamored with reading, but there was something about this book - the beautiful colors along the jacket covering the solid hardback, the dainty horse pulling the carriage across the page, the mystery of who might be in the carriage - that was mesmerizing.


The clerk smiled at me and left.


I opened the book and plunged my nose between the pages, inhaling the sweet intoxicating scent of a brand-new book - a religious experience.


I looked at the inside flap and saw the $5.95 staring back at me. I would have to do some serious extra chores.


I reluctantly stood on tiptoe to slide the book back into its place. I looked around to make sure I could find my way back to the spot.

Many weeks later, after having run the aisles of the warehouse on a regular basis, I breathlessly pedaled my bike back, money tucked safely into my pocket.


I ran straight to the aisle that held the object of my desire; happily there were still some copies left.


I pulled the book out.


Unable to resist another sniff, I opened the pages.


I found my way to the checkout.


As I pedaled my bike home, the book swinging in its bag hanging from my handlebars, I couldn't wait to dive in and devour the words that would transport me to a magical place.


The Diddakoi did not disappoint.


And Rumer Godden has been a lifelong favorite author.


Nearly two years ago, as I sadly dismantled our household of 20 years during my divorce, I was in a cleaning, downsizing, purging delirium.


I got rid of a lot of stuff.


I was making huge, positive life changes and didn't want to be weighed down by material things.


But, the books - the books. It was painful to part with so many books, but I knew that in my coming situation, I wouldn't have the space.


I gave away in excess of two hundred books - like giving a little bit of my soul in each and every one.


Sometimes I made rash decisions about what should stay and what should go, only to suffer a few pangs of regret later.


But as I sit here today writing and drinking my cup of tea, I'm pleased to report that I can still plunge my nose between the pages of Rumer Godden's beloved children's novel.


It's no longer new. Dust and time have stolen the intoxicating scent.


But this book is still with me - a precious childhood memory of a blossoming love for the written word - a memory that heals as it reminds me of the adventurous open child I was.


I'm finding that girl again. And now that I've done some writing and reminiscing, it must be time to read!