09 July 2012

Old Friends


Some of my dearest friends and comrades are the books that sit on shelves throughout my home. I call them friends because with them I have shared a precious intimacy. They are my chosen, and I have given my life to them. I have stood naked with them and written my secrets on their souls, and they have offered me their private thoughts and given me entrance to their most intimate confidences. I have lain with these friends during my brightest days and my darkest nights; in the lonely moments of my soul they have comforted me and been my companion through until morning. These friends and I have together laughed and wept, bemoaned and celebrated our individual state and that of the world; we have together in joy studied and frolicked. These friends have drunk with me my coffees and liquorsI have stained their pages with my carelessness, and they have often served as valet and wiped my face when I was too untidy. These intimates have entered the cloistered spaces into which even my children have no access; they have suffered without complaint the stench of my ordure and enjoyed the sweeter smells of my private fragrances. The books have kept the splatter from my desktops and my lap, and screened my face from the muck and mire of the world; they have borne the blows aimed to me.
But like me, my friends have aged, and sometimes when I pull one out from the shelf and beg some companionship, their fragility becomes all too evident. The glue has irrevocably dried up; the covers slip off and the pages detach from the spine. With the slightest movement pages float down like leaves off the trees in the Fallor drift like souls lost. When I pull a volume out to renew some familiarity or to enter into some new intimacy, the book comes undone in my arms and becomes unreadable. I no longer can enter into new conversations with this particular friend for it can no longer bear the weight of my body or my soul. My pens and pencils would now rend the lines and spaces; my own voices engraved in the pages have become faded in their memory.     
What shall I do with these hoary books? I hold one up and it crumbles in my hands. Delicately I embrace the volume and gently turn some pages and recover some of my past: I see along the margins shadowy words in a familiar handwriting recollecting some thoughts and holding onto my past. Without the books I would have no access to this past. I hold onto these friends for my life. The shelves bend under the weight. 
What do I do with these hoary books? I place them with love back on the shelf and I purchase them anew; my library doubles in size with the repetition. But reading the new edition does not feel the same knowing my old friend sits silently forlorn on the shelf. 

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has slumbered with books cradled like old friends in my arms! They know me so well.

And, speaking of old friends, I just want to say how much I miss you, my long ago friend...if you would even allow me to call you that anymore. I miss your mind and musings.

09 July, 2012 21:09  
Blogger Alan A. Block said...

You have only to call.

10 July, 2012 05:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't. I've painted myself into a tight corner.

10 July, 2012 08:03  
Blogger Alan A. Block said...

Dylan: "My clothes are wet, tight on my skin, not as tight as the corner that I've painted myself in . . ." You could alway step onto the paint on the floor and leave some tracks.

10 July, 2012 08:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, but my corner is so safe and comfortable and I've almost convinced myself it is all I need to survive these days but then why do I feel as though I'm slowly dying from the inside out?

And, do you even know whom you are asking to call?

10 July, 2012 09:01  
Blogger Alan A. Block said...

Maybe

10 July, 2012 09:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe???? How could you know...I haven't seen you in several years...around 18?! Yet, at certain moments I discover you...hovering there in my thoughts...and wonder what it is that brings you there.

And, if you are imagining a different "friend" then perhaps I would disappoint. I cannot yet call. I might need 18 more years.

10 July, 2012 10:09  
Blogger Alan A. Block said...

I've got time, I hope. But you come out, come out wherever you are.

10 July, 2012 10:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh what a lovely linguistic game of hide and seek we play! In that childhood game (which I would still enjoy) I always thrilled at the journey of seeking more than the moment of discovery.

10 July, 2012 12:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“...Your debutante just knows what you need
but I know what you want...”

10 July, 2012 13:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, my debutant knows my flirtatious side well but I hid her away years ago from society...too vulnerable. She could find no one whose dance intrigued her nor one who understood her steps.

Ahh, how could you profess to know what I want? Besides, I've been working these past months to simplify and live without wants.

10 July, 2012 13:44  

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