Sunday, March 27, 2011


When I was at the checkout desk on Friday, the librarian looked at the stack of books I was holding and asked "You're not baking this weekend?" He doesn't know my name, but he knows what I read. I guess I'm a regular. I go to the library several times a week. Sometimes I go twice in one day, dropping off books before I run errands and picking up replacements on the way home.

There was a time, earlier in this century, that I would have countered boredom with shopping. A lot of us did. A trip to Target and a bottle of nail polish, a trip to Old Navy and a handful of tank tops, wandering around the mall and chasing the blues away. Although my credit cards got plenty of exercise, I'm lucky that I didn't get too deep over my head before I learned my lesson, stopped shopping, and started saving. I'm debt-free now, and I plan to stay that way until the inevitable mortgage.

My mind still confuses "stuff" with "progress". I'm trying to re-program myself, but the itch starts mid-afternoon. Soon after lunch I start looking around and thinking that I have nothing to do, and nothing to show for my time. I've sent out resumes that will be reviewed and may or may not get a reply, the laundry's done and put away, it's too early to make dinner. I satisfy the urge for something new by going to the library and wandering around, getting lost in the musty smell, and coming home with armfuls of books.

Books have always been my friends. I started reading very early, before my third birthday. I was reading chapter books by the end of kindergarten. Around age seven I started picking up housekeeping magazines and the daily newspaper simply because they were around the house. Reading kept me company when I felt completely alone, through grade-school recesses when I stayed in because I was afraid of being a target, terrifying pre-adolescent insomnia, teenage sulking, the boredeom of summers home from college, the commute once I was part of the workforce. They're here for me still - old friends, new friends, always patiently waiting to distract me.

My eyes tear up with gratitude when I think about how many books there are in the world - thousands? millions? The exact number doesn't matter. I'll never be able to read them all.