Tonight, in a very dimly lit living room, I spent many hours sifting through some of my old books for 1st world reasons that aren’t important. I haven’t spent much time with my short bound friends in some time so it was nice to visit for a while.
The old days of spending endless hours in Northampton and Amherst dusty bookstores and coffee houses is a distant memory but like any powerful memory from our past, there are certain things – smells, sounds, textures, or images – that immediately take us back to those special (or not so special) times.
For me, tonight, it was a freshly opened Walt Whitman; a book that hadn’t been cracked in many, many years. Immediately, it emitted that nostalgic puff of musty poetry that book lovers cherish and in an instant, I was transported to a time when life was simpler and more reflective.
This particular book had been given to me as a Christmas present by my step-father, John. I had been an English major in college with all the answers and he was an English teacher at St. John’s Prep with an perpetual level of patience for me. There were times that we would spend hours talking about books and writers or listening to music. I think we both cherished those conversations, those moments which in hindsight are some of the most special of my life.
I opened that book tonight and peered down at the first page.
I had completely forgotten that he had written that note in the book so many years ago. But almost 22 years later, it moved me.
We lost John in December of 2005 very unexpectedly but for a split second, as I sat in the solace of my book sanctuary, I felt that he was close. That, yes, he *was* proud of me.
I miss him.
I miss our conversations.
I miss sharing our mutual love of music and literature.
But I find comfort knowing that while John will always be like a blade of grass, ‘intricate and fascinating’ in my memories, we can still always meet in a field of grass moving in waves of wind to chat about the demise of authentic rock and the profound loss I feel that he never got to meet all of his grandchildren.
Surely, it’s not the same but it’s just as beautiful, in a different way.
Like he said, ‘It’s good stuff’.