I had a huge personal library when I was still living at home. My room was in the basement, and since the basement had no closets, my parents bought these cheap Sauder wood-like wardrobes. The stuff I stored in there fell into three categories. Books, clothes, and art supplies. I estimate that my books took up a full 70% of the space, clothes about 15%, and art supplies about 10%.
You could see where my priorities lay.
Dad had a few shelves in his closet full of books, and when he needed that space for something else, he asked me to store his books in with mine. Some of the books were my brother’s, and I read them after he did, and they also somehow made it to my closets.
When I packed up to move, I didn’t really have time or the energy to sort through the books. I just threw them all in these boxes that I borrowed from work, packing in such way that it wouldn’t throw anyone’s back out when they lifted it up. Which means that I packed the boxes to the brim, and carried them myself.
I wanted to move out of my parents’ house quickly on moving day. I wasn’t sure how long before dad would blow up, and I wanted to make sure all my stuff was out and not held hostage by his temper. So I secured permission from my husband’s family to temporarily store the boxes of books in their basement, and every time I went out that way, I put a few boxes in my car. I don’t even remember how many boxes I had. I know I had over a thousand books at the time.
Looking back, I have no idea how I had the energy to do all the moving and packing and unpacking. I was so severely depressed, and I’d pack a few books, sit down and rest a while, pack a few more books, sit down and rest a while.
Anyway. All the boxes of books were transferred from Jeff’s house to the basement of my new place. Shortly after I moved, dad told me that my brother, Tommy, wanted to read some of the Star Trek books, and could I find them and bring them over next time I visited? Sure, I said. I sorted through the boxes. I knew I had kept all the Star Trek ones together, but in which box? I had to take frequent breaks. I’d look through one, go upstairs and eat a few Oreos, go back downstairs and sort a little more. Sometimes I’d sit and stare at a wall until an hour had passed before I realized.
I found a small number of the Star Trek books, but it would take a while before I could find the ones he was talking about. I told him I would keep looking.
Then I was disowned.
Fast forward a year. Jeff and I were moving to Chicago, and I needed to whittle down my book collection so not to break the axles of the U-Haul truck. Fortunately I had some anti-depressants, so the sorting wasn’t so agonizing.
I finally ran across the books dad was talking about. I cried, feeling horrible that I wasn’t able to find them in time for Tommy to read. I had no interest in reading these particular books, but I felt too guilty to abandon them. So, I brought them with me. Abandoning them would have felt like I was abandoning Tommy all over again. They’re still sitting on my bookshelf nearly three years later.
I’ve been in a cleaning and purging mood for the past few months–I’ve been clearing a lot of stuff out of the house that I don’t use, don’t wear, don’t want anymore, so we can have more space for better organization. One of the things I want to purge are these Star Trek books.
I told my therapist about this yesterday, and why I still feel torn about these books. My T thought that it could be a way to reconnect with my family, and honestly, I’m scared of that idea. She said it sounds like I’m eventually heading toward reestablishing connections with my family, and I thought, where did that come from? She’s pretty perceptive, and has helped me see connections I overlooked. However, ANY form of communication is probably several years down the road.
Anyway. There’s no real way to ship them back. Chances are, dad probably has already bought more. I’m not going to send an email and offer to send them back and risk opening old wounds and opening the Pandora’s box of dad’s narcissistic moods and mom’s submissiveness to him.
But to just give them away to the library or sell them…I’m still associating these books with Tommy. I don’t want to lose him again, if that makes sense? I know I’m not. I still hold him and the other little ones close to my heart. These books aren’t like the Spiderman valentine that Tommy gave me with his careful, large, crooked handwriting on it. That is a real connection. The books…not so much.
I think I may actually be associating the books with dad. I think I fear selling these books because I fear dad’s anger still. Dammit. Years later and I’m still tiptoeing on eggshells around him.
Sigh. That still doesn’t answer the question of what to do with the books. Hang onto them on the off chance that 10 years down the road that Tommy still remembers that he wanted to read the books? Sell them? Give them to someone who I know would love these books?