I packed up my books today. The books are always the first thing to go when I move, empty shelves the first sure sign of leaving. I'd like to say it's because my library is emblematic of my very presence, but really it's because they're an easy first step--I can box up my books with only half a brain, and suddenly a third of my possessions are taken care of before I've wrapped a single dish or even emptied out my closets.
It's different this time, though, because most of my books aren't coming with me, and it was a strange kind of parting as I pulled them off the shelves, like burying a time capsule. As I sorted and stacked and fit them all into rows, I imagined the moment when I'll re-open those boxes, like a reunion with a whole crowd of old friends (...whom I've stuffed into a box and placed in a non-climate-controlled storage facility for a year or two). I could practically see them smiling at me, showing their pages like teeth. I don't even think they'll hold a grudge for the whole storage thing.
Not everything's staying here; I allowed myself one box of books I just couldn't leave behind. The Austens are coming, and Middlemarch and Jane Eyre; so are 84 Charing Cross Road and Girl Meets God (for emergency comfort reading). I also packed a supply of books I have yet to read--basically my takings from the San Francisco Library book sale, plus a few future book-club selections. I'm still debating the wisdom of leaving The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty here, and can't promise I won't sneak it into my suitcase at the last second; I haven't read much Eudora here, but somehow the move has motivated her. Take me with you, she's saying. You'll want me later. I don't doubt it.