BROKEN BINDINGS

When you are an English teacher and a librarian off and on for most of your life, you tend to collect books. For 25 years at my OH home, half our living room was covered by a wall of bookshelves, and that doesn’t take in account all the individual rooms that had their own bookshelves or niches where books collected.

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus

Most of those books stayed in OH. I gave them to friends. I left some to be found in strange places. I donated some to missions. I left some to the schools I taught at over the years. But there were some…
There some precious ones…
Some very precious ones…
That even though pages were ripped – or stained with whatever yukkies that had accumulated throughout the years – or with loose pages pulling away from the long-dried-out glue (in the case of paperbacks) or broken stitches in the hard covers – – –
There were some that had to make the journey to the new Covenant properties in NC.

“I can open doors and take from the shelves
All the books I’ve longed to hold.” ~”One of These Moments”/Yentl

The amazing part – it is the oldest, well-thumbed through, broken books that are the ones that I treasure the most. They have that smell that only old books have. They cradled my head when I fell asleep on them. They were there to read on the darkest of nights or in the sunniest days or as I waited for whatever thing was next on my agenda. Their pages were turned by a silly teenager who thought she knew everything – a young woman on the cusp of discovery – a more mature seeker of wisdom – an older woman still seeking and believing. And the images that those books imprinted on me at various points in my life still live deep within me.

For me, the hardest thing of all is when that strong binding – the thing that held the book together for decades – that put up with me laying it face down and open – or bending it backwards as I tried to copied something out of it – or holding to close to my chest as if I could imprint the images by osmosis, finally breaks in that one crucial place, and all of its precious leafy pages flutter to the floor much like rocky ground of the woods in late fall.

Even as I try to gather the pages in order, I know that I can’t put it back together. Not this time. The tape that I have used for many years, just doesn’t have that kind of strength anymore. The pages with all their imagery and characters, laughter and tears, babies and joys, memories and adventures are no longer held by what I once thought was an indestructible cover. The strong thread that ran through each page, tying the adventures of the story to the binding has been severed.

And I cry and cry and cry.

I know I can buy a replacement book. These days, I know I can probably find an old copy of that very same book via the internet. But it won’t be “that” book. It won’t be the one that carried me through the years. It won’t be the one that helped me find dreams to dream. I won’t be the one taught me so many things and added to my wisdom. It won’t be the same…

“A voice deep inside
Is getting stronger
I can’t keep it quiet any longer
No matter what happens
It can’t be the same anymore
I promise it won’t be the same
Anymore!”

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