Monday, July 23, 2007

The memory of summer and youth

* The smell of books, the smell of libraries, the mustiness of all the knowledge that fills the air. The way the bindings creak and crack when you open an older book, like an attic door being opened and letting out all of its hidden treasures and secrets that have been hidden away waiting for someone to come in. I love looking at the dates on the punch cards in the front of the book to see when the last time someone checked that particular book out. When I was in high school I used to read the names on the punch card in the front of the book to see if a boy I had a crush on had checked the book out sometime before me and therefore we shared something in common. I would imagine the boy in his favorite t-shirt and jeans lying on his back in bed reading the book I now held in my hands.

The knowledge that fills a library reminds me of a childhood basement, the combination of dust, mildew, and damp brick walls that haven’t seen any light through the small ground level widows in a long while. The scent can hit you like a memory sometimes, but then while you’re within the confines of the rows upon rows of books the memories disappear and you can actually feel yourself travel back to your youth. Some of my own books have this same effect on me; when I open the cover and hear the binding crack the aroma of memories and youth hits me. I can feel myself travel back to when I was a pre-teen and I see myself sitting on my twin bed with its white chenille bedspread, the coolness of the air conditioner floating through my room, the bright sun and tall oak trees with their long green arms waving and watching me through my bedroom windows while I was reading the long hot summer days away traveling to wherever the black and white words would take me.

That is exactly how I felt this weekend. Saturday I awoke early to head to my local bookstore purveyor to purchase my copy of Harry Potter. I then proceeded to spend my Saturday afternoon on my deck enjoying the lovely weather while working on my tan as I traveled with Harry and his usual troop of friends on their final adventure. I suddenly flashed back to being 12-years-old when all I wanted to do during the summer was either be outside working on my tan or laying on my bed inside within the cozy comfort of the air conditioning. The fact that I knew there were several million actual 12-year-olds doing the same thing I was on Saturday, well that brought a smile to my face. The fact that there was as much hype and anticipation over a book...a book in the day and age where the i-Phone, i-Pod, and whatever other gadget is hot this summer, well, that brought a gigantic smile to my heart and to my memory bank.

* The first two paragraphs are from a short story I am currently suffering a bout of writer's blocked. It is about the summer I was 11 years-old and my love of books and how I whiled away the summer hours.


limpy99 said...

Coincidentally, I spent a good part of Sunday outside reading a book and working on a sunburn. Got the sunburn. Still reading "The Catcher in the Rye" and wondering why it was such a big deal in high school.

Party Girl said...

Limpy: I think I was the only teen who didn't like "Catcher in the Rye." My friends were all up in arms over this fact, but I stuck to my guns. I was told recently I should revisit it to see if my ideas have changed. Something tells me, no, they haven't.

limpy99 said...

We're kindred spirits then, because it's not getting any better on the second read.

Next week I tackle Moby Dick. I liked it in high school. We'll see if it holds up.

Bre said...

It took a mere 5 hours of ignoring everything else in life but the pages.

I cried a LOT

But dang, it was worth it.

Party Girl said...

Limpy: Are you completeing your junior high school reading list?

Or just reupdating your memory and appreciation (or lack of) the classics?

Bre: I am only about 200 pages in (gotta love moving) but the anticipation and wondering and waiting and the need to pick up the book and get to the next chapter.....oh, I love it when a book has that kind of ability on me.

...and then when I am sad that I finished it....ahhhhh

limpy99 said...

Reupdating a few old books I've found lying around. I can't ditch a book without reading it twice.

HST said...

I feel the same way about "the old man and the sea". I know Hemmingway is a prominent figure in literature but SHIT if that book wasn't a fucking snoozer.

Tom Serafini, Actor to the Stars! said...

Nice entry PG, evocative and sentimental. I like it.

Oh - and your all sheep for falling for all that Harry Potter drivel. Of course, it has served to keep me from getting laid this weekend because the damn girl can't put the book down. Thank you, J.K.

Dirty Bunny said...

We love books. There's always money for books, we say. One of the elderly ladies I clean for gave me two Shakespeare books from 1835. I felt like I won Publisher's Clearing House.

a. said...

You may enjoy reading Annie Dillard's, "An American Childhood".