Thursday, October 30, 2008

Goodnight, not goodbye

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Liz, this is one thing I love finding out because I love my books, too! When I drove across the country to Tennessee, I had my computer, a suitcase and one box of clothes, and as many books as I could fit into three boxes (I wanted to bring more, but that was all that would fit). Of course, whenever I flew home or my parents visited, more of my books joined me so that when I returned I had six large boxes of books, prompting my parents to bring their horse trailer to move me and my stuff. :) Yes, we're classy.

Teri said...

No, not the books! I always pack them first, too, but I can't imagine putting them in storage. What if I suddenly NEED to read something that is across the country, and the library is closed?

Sarah said...

Wait, why aren't you taking your books? I get no furniture, but...why no books? I am perplexed by this.

Anonymous said...

Hey Liz,
I go NO WHERE without my Walt Whitman....PERIOD!!
My very best wishes on your new era in life,
Al's Dad

Liz said...


I know this is going to happen to me, too--I'm probably going to acquire stuff while I'm there (especially books!). I wish my parents had a horse trailer! (And, well, a horse.)

Liz said...

What if I suddenly NEED to read something that is across the country, and the library is closed?

You should know that I had this exact conundrum re: the Pants books. I hemmed and hawed all over the place, but decided that I might very possibly NEED them while I'm there. So they're coming with me. :)

Liz said...


I'm taking some of my books, but I have a lot of books, and it didn't seem like filling my car with them or shipping 10 boxes of books cross-country was totally necessary. So I'll have the ones I really need, and the rest I guess I'll see later.

Liz said...

Al's Dad,

Good to hear from you! Ah, Walt. Always a classic. I mean, he contains nations! Or is it multitudes or masses? Shoot. My 11th-grade English teacher would be so sad right now.