Carrying Books

The sun dusts the white door in the new apartment where the light from the kitchen is “working on it.” It took me a couple of weeks but I think we can begin to settle into this new place. We can begin to speak for ourselves, not just for our boxes. During this move, I sometimes realized, barreling to brooklyn from queens, and to florida where my grandfather was moving, that for the last two weeks my entire spirit was geared toward moving objects from one place to the next. I thought to myself, who am I to need so much, which is to say so many books? 

Books for their stories, for the memories that they hold like trees hold carbon, for their physical presence: their type, their color. Books because I made them, because someone I love made them, because someone I love has written in them. I would have almost nothing: Some clothes and shoes and a tool box, if it wasn’t for my books. All the rest is either shared or left on the sidewalk. And over the years, what are the books I keep?

I never hired movers before, so I had the inclination to help them, to apologize for the awkwardness of all my things. They stole a pack of cigarettes I had not taken from in nine months from the top drawer of my dresser. I thought it was better I didn’t have them, so I didn’t mention it. In any case, I can’t carry this bookshelf on my own. What does it mean when we can’t carry all we own? I know this is a migratory thought, a transient thought, but it seems important to know the weight of you, you who owns this and that, and what you have the ability to carry. You must have money to pay people to help you, you must have friends. But I was also just exhausted by all of my things. Yes, I love them when they are in one place, but not when I have to carry them, which I suppose comes as no surprise, but there is something here. 

I was sitting in one of my classes. I have remained at a feverish state for the last month - month. Moving is distracting to say the least and traumatizing at most. The professor has a calming manner, in a smooth German accent that spread through the emptying room like summer butter: “you never remember the move. You just remember getting there.” I have moved nine times, maybe even more in the last eleven years, since I moved to New York City. But I can never remember all the lifting.

I keep the books that are beautiful and whose stories I love. Maybe I’m an adult now and should treat myself to certain things, not apologize for them, though they feel like an extension of my body.

a dream:

My boyfriend and I were driving up the coast in Oregon again, beaches appeared between sheets of fog where living trees were shaped like ribs by the waves. 

We overlooked another hill filled with trash and a single tree at the center. Cotton balls caught to dried grasses and trash bags tangled in the branches of the single tree, maybe a maple or an elm: with a rounded crown. The tree that seemed to represent all that was living. It’s strange how the beach trees, though skeletal, seemed more alive than this green tree standing on the trash hill.