Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Memorable Loss

My mini-meltdown last night reaffirmed my life-long obsession about lost things. Last week my husband inadvertently gave away my 35-year-old copy of The Magus, which had been given to me by an old boyfriend and inscribed with a statement that stuck with me all these years. Ironically I had just written about this book and those words last week. At this point my book is either at the bottom of a young Israeli’s backpack or discarded in a large dumpster in NYC, the perfect place for a ratty old book once the last page has been read.

So who was this guy who gave me the book all those years ago? I didn’t love him, although we spent a lot of time together over a 2-month period in 1972, helping each other in very different ways. A catalyst for our split was probably his reluctance to make any level of commitment to our relationship. My last memory of Bill was my hurling 4-letter invectives at his back as he walked down the front walk, having just brought back the key to the group house in which I lived at the time. But he left me with a book that I re-read several times over the years and which in a strange way has had an impact on my life.

My concern for lost things goes back to my earliest memories. For years I wouldn’t play with my maroon and grey plastic tea set because it was missing a piece or two. I remember when I lost the beaded change purse that my father had given me in the 3rd grade. In the 7th grade it was a white jacket that I had spent $5 of my allowance money on. When my children were small and pieces of special toys turned up missing, I immediately ordered replacement parts, being practically on a first-name basis with Fisher-Price.

After I screamed "I can’t believe you gave my book away!" my husband immediately sent off an urgent e-mail to Yonathan, requesting that he mail back the book upon completion... if he still had it. Who knows? It might come back, but maybe not. If not, it will simply get chronicled with the other losses of my life, most of which really don’t matter anyway. But for some odd reason, I have a hard time giving in to loss of any kind.

Does anyone else share this strange attraction to things?


Blogger wharman said...

How strange that you were just thinking about this book last week! I'm sorry it might be gone. Being a person who has a hard time "letting it go" I completely understand your emotional attachment to the book. It sounds like it has acted as a haven or a refreshing reminder for you for years, which means its physical loss is palpable. Hopefully you have its lessons and inscription in your head, a place you can turn to anytime you want.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

You know, I'm going to channel a little Reya here, but do you think it was time to part with that book? I mean, you just wrote about it, then your husband gives it away? Too coincidential and in life I don't believe in coincidences.

And why are you hanging on to something from an old boyfriend? Hmm? As I tap my foot? Of course this is coming from a woman who can't recall her boyfriend's last name who she dated in Jan / Feb. Remember New Jersey? Yeah, I'm drawing a blank on his last name.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Wendy -- Sage advice. And yes, I do carry those things in my head.

Velvet -- Nothing like a swift kick in the ass. Maybe it was just meant to be. In truth, if the book was so important to me, it should never have been mixed in with all the others that we often recycle. I got a loving apology on a home-made 30th anniversary card from the real love of my life today. Thanks for making me realize just how good I have it!

12:36 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Everything has a season as they say. It was time. I strolled up to my attic and re-discovered a lot of "precious" things from my past and why I hang on to them I don't really know. They hold no significance in my present life. I wrote a poem and then later put it to music. I'll post it soon. It has a Country and Western flavour, not my style really, but now that I think of it, it rather suited to mourning the losses in life!

Glad you got a nice card from The REAL Love of your life!

3:57 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Yes! A few members of my family can't STAND to lose even the smallest thing. Give away? Fine, no problem. But straight losing something drives them batty.

To Love, Honor and Dismay

7:17 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Oooh! I would go absolutely ballistic if Sofia ever discarded one of my books (which has she come close to on occasion - fortunately I was sorting through the recycle bin to catch anything she throws out - she always pleads innocence, but I am not so sure).

7:30 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

I forgot to comment yesterday, was thinking about this. I used to hang onto things, which eventually became a burden. I have been whittling down over the past few years. The importance of things becomes obtuse as time passes.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- I'll look forward to reading your poem.

Andrew -- "Batty" would have been a good description of me on many an occasion. I can identify with that.

Richard -- I'm sure Sofia would never intentionally throw anything of yours away. You sound exactly like me.

OL -- I love your line "the importance of things becomes obtuse as time passes." I hope that will be true with me. I'm working on it...

12:21 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

"Love gives beauty to everything it touches. Not greed and utility; they produce offices, but not dwelling houses. To be able to love material things, to clothe them with tender grace, and yet not be attached to them, this is a great service." Rabindranath Tagore

I do all but that very last part! I love my things and am always sad when I have to part with them. Been this way since childhood. I am delighted to have found your site - it's wonderful!

2:57 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Someone needed to update this whole saga to report that the book was indeed returned by our young wonderful Israeli friend!

10:25 PM  

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