Bookshelves as Soul Journey: Always Getting There
|On the way: Much ado about...|
If I ever become a minimalist, I will happily trim my wardrobe to a pair of silver hoops, a black turtleneck, and a few other pieces that never go out of style (hat tip: Ellen Lubin-Sherman), but I will not sacrifice my books—that dusty pile of intellectual memorabilia that has traveled with me since I read The Hobbit on my grandmother's mildewy hammock under the pine trees at Peter's Pond campground on Cape Cod. (Do you know how Cape Cod pine trees smell on a hot summer day? Have you ever eaten tiny, hand-picked blueberries with milk and sugar from a plastic camp bowl? Walked through a cloud of fluffy little flies?Trust me, these things are worthy of a topical digression.) But anyway... as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself: The covers are gone on some of my Little House on the Prairie novels, and some things can go... but ... The. Books. Stay. And the shelves that house them? The universal cosmic metaphor for a soul journey.
Over the recent school vacation, I spent an unnatural amount of emotional and spiritual energy on finding bookshelves for my office. I wanted to make my new workspace a cozy place for the future of my brain. The way I see it, my office is the bank that stores and amasses the writer/editor's currency: books. Books I've edited, the one I've written, and all the volumes that contributed to my complicated, convoluted, and painfully simple outlook on staying positive during a $h!t life. All these books are how I landed upon my bumper-sticker philosophy: "Get over it; get on with it." Yes! Forward. The book-filled office would be the future home of my forthcoming New York Times bestseller (as soon as I decide what to write about).
So, things went something like this. The story is long. Sorry. That's because the saga actually WAS long.
We begin at IKEA, in search of solid wood but affordable. $400 for a wall of shelves!!!! Perfect! Oops. Nothing is in stock. Damndemic.
Looked up other IKEA stores near me. Closest place that has them in stock is Brooklyn. As luck would have it, IKEA is on my college bestie's running route. He said he'd pick them up for me and deliver. So exciting!!! Except then he didn't.
Onto Facebook Marketplace. For hours on end. Found a set in in Boston! Jumped in the car on a whim at 7:30 pm on a Sunday. Perfect chance to see an old workmate from 1995. I picked him up and he drove with me to the house high on a hill in Oak Square so that I wouldn't get murdered by a random Facebook bookshelf seller. We walked through a hoarder's maze to find the shelves hidden in a corner of a musty ashtray-smelling basement. Oops... forgot to ask if they were solid wood. They were not. Plus, vibe?
Then there was the hours of Googling. IKEA. Overstock.com. Pottery Barn. IKEA. Crate and Barrel. Amazon. IKEA. Hayneedle. Wayfair. IKEA. Oh, right. IKEA has nothing in stock. Home Depot. Lowes. IKEA. Everything else is too expensive for lousy quality. IKEA again. The cheap ones were crap; the half-decent ones were too expensive.
Talked to my high-rent colleague. Have someone build them! (Too expensive, too permanent.) Then buy antiques, he said! Great idea. Yes, lasting quality! Facebook Marketplace turned out some gorgeous oak barrister's cases. Drive to remote location in town a half hour away that no one goes to, into a garage that is someone's makeshift antique store. Lovely. Can I afford $2000 for bookshelves? Um... nope. Dream, deferred.
Who needs high prices? How about cheap and temporary? Considered shelving and wall brackets. Filled my online cart at Lowes. Then abandoned ship.
Drove to another town a half hour away that no one goes to, to a giant low-budget estate clean-out kind of store that no one goes to. Cavernous, smelly, and .... well, depressing. Wandered the aisles of low-quality-but-maybe-someone-will-buy-it goods, nearly cried, bought a brand new white stuffed bear for Lord Fauntleroy for $2, took an elaborate concoction of lithium, Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, and Clonopin, washed it down with a Wendy's baked potato and a Diet Coke, and drove home.
Back to Facebook Marketplace. (Is this story getting long? Well... so was the bookshelf saga.) Then I found them. (No guru ever achieved nirvana without first some suffering.) At last: Solid wood, $200, a half hour away, to a photographer's studio, chock full of stuff that he was trying to sell before he embarked on his retirement during which he would drive down the East Coast and photograph every lighthouse on the way. He had lighthouse lapel pins on his baseball hat. I was happy to help fund his journey.
Problem solved. Don't love them, but it's time to move on to the next neurotic obsession. So, in two trips, I shoved the shelves in the back of my little red Prius, hauled them into the house myself and almost broke my wrist, and now... well, here they are. Empty.
But I'm getting there. Always getting there.