Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lost forever (not like the show, where they keep coming back again, and again, and again)

Every now and again I feel the painful twinge of loss. That feeling that clasps around your heart and gives a little squeeze. I've felt it again in recent days, and I'm worried that I won't get over it this time.

My mom gave away some of my books. Not just a box of random titles that I will never remember having read and would never pick up again, anyway. This box contained my prized titles.

They were worth nothing in terms of resale value. No classic first editions, hard to find, antique books. But, these books were worth their weight in sentimentality.

There were signed copies from my favorite writing professor from college. I was so embarrassed, taking the books in and asking him if he wouldn't mind signing them for me. I felt like a band groupie, blushing and nervous. The feeling was something similar to the first time I approached a boy I liked: awkward limbs, dry mouth, and fractured sentences. Those were hard to lose.

But then there was:

*an autographed copy of my next favorite writing professor's first published book

*the books I read and studied during my study abroad stint in England

*random, influential books from my childhood

Sigh. And let's not forget that the giving/throwing away, we're not really sure what happened to these boxes, all took place several years ago. I just can't let it go!
It's not my mother's fault. They were in her basement forever, giving the illusion of diminished value. The truth being that their importance was so great to me, I had chosen to leave them in a 'safe' place as I took up a nomadic lifestyle, seeking out my place in the world.

When I finally settled in where I am now, I contacted my mom, asking when I could retrieve my boxes from the basement. She paused. Thought long and hard. Then told me that she was pretty sure there was no more of my stuff in her basement. I was stunned. I repeatedly asked her to check, check, and check again! She did. They were gone. I cried.

I know I can always go repurchase the books that were lost, but those new, glossy covered tomes would not bear the same scuffs, tears, bends, and tatters of experience the other ones possessed. Sometimes the loss is overbearing, knowing they are lost to me forever.

Other times I sort of giggle as I imagine someone picking one up and asking who the 'Lisa' from the inscription is. Then I imagine that very copy, years in the future, up for auction at Christie's, the description in the catalog posturing at who the mysterious 'Lisa' was and what her significance was to the author. I know this is ridiculous thought to imagine, but it somehow helps to think that my loss was for the greater good of the future, and will serve a purpose.

Of all the titles, in all the used bookstores in the world, I wonder who's reading mine?

Have you lost a book of enormous, sentimental significance to you?


Marie said...

yes, i lost my childhood copy of Ferdinand the Bull, as well as a book of medieval folk tales I got as a prize for a high school history award. Sad!

Bookfool said...

I've been lucky when it comes to books. I'm the youngest, but I had the first baby. So, I dashed home and snatched up just about every single great title from my childhood. Eventually, I shared a few with my sister. But, I really did end up with most of the books I wanted. I feel for you. There were other prized possessions that my mother sold in garage sales without bothering to ask if I still wanted them.

Anonymous said...

I never read when I was young. So I don't really have a stack of books in the basement or elsewhere. Although it should make me happy, i kind of wished I had something I treasured. Even a Nancy Drew.

Lisa I am sure your books are in great hands. If someone is buying books that old I am sure they really want them. And then who knows you might see one of them in somewhere. The world is a small place after all :)

lilly said...

Ouch, that sucks! Sorry to hear it happened. It's never happened to me yet and I hope it never will. I do have tons of books that have sentimental value that I left behind in Poland (including the ones I studied in college) and I haven't been back there for seven years so I hope that they're all right. If I go there one day and they're not there I'll be throwing a fit of a lifetime!

Di said...

No books...but after our last move, we can't find the box of Christmas ornaments. I have ornaments that are 40 years old. My grandmother used to put a little cheap ornament on the top of our presents and they became the basis of my Christmas tree when I became an adult. I am still hoping they show up.

Joanne said...

Oh that's so sad that you lost your treasured books :( You should try and find them somehow, it would be neat if someone ever contacted you and said "hey Lisa I've got one of your books" - even if they weren't willing to return the book, it would be so cool to learn where the books traveled to :)

The Bookworm Blog said...

What a bummer! It's hard to lose those books we cherish most. I know. I recently had to give up a large collection of books that I had been gathering since I was 13. We made a cross country move and just didn't have room. I picked out a bunch of my most treasured, packed them into 2 boxes and they are at my sisters in Michigan patiently waiting until I can bring them to our new home. All the rest was taken off for donation. Now, I'm back to rebuilding my collection one book at a time.