Childhood Dreams and Broken Feathers

My Mom sent me 60lbs of books. Yes, 60. She cleared out some of the shelves in my old room to make space for my (insufferable) younger cousin to put her (undoubtedly pink and unbearably girly) stuff when she visits. Why she couldn’t just leave my things there for her to use when she comes I didn’t understand until I just accepted this shipment and lugged it up eight flights of stairs.

I had my books stacked three deep on my shelves. Going through them right now, I see the years pass by. Years spent with reading Davy Crockett and Betsy Ross biographies along with my Dad’s classic sci-fi collection (Asimov, Heinlein, Wells mainly). Years spent reading Platon’s Myths. Years spent reading anything and everything about African Nomad culture. Years spent reading anything Laurens Van Der Post.

60 lbs of books and tons and tons of memories. I remember reading Jane Goodall’s Through A Window the year we got our first internet connection. George Orwell’s 1984 ten years after the “fated date” had passed, way before it was required reading in school. Eidetic memory longs to draw up passages of each book, funnily enough, Loewentor und Labyrinth by Hans Baumann, one of the first books I ever read in German, is the one that pops up most readily. The second chapter, Schliemanns Odysseusfahrt nach Ithaka (Schliemann’s Odyssey to Ithaka), is as present in my mind as the dreary clouds hanging deep outside my window.

Er war vierzehn Jahre alt als er von Ankershagen auszog. Sein Vater, ein Pfarrer, der sein Amt verloren hatte, konnte das Schulgeld nicht mehr fuer ihn aufbringen. Schliemann hing lebenslang an ihm. Durch ihn hatte er zum ersten Male von Troja gehoert, von Achill und Odysseus, von Helena, Agamemnon, Hektor und Paris…

I liberated that book from the library of the man who has since become my best friend in Germany. He read it, and most of the DTV Junior library when he was a kid. Now, he’s lending them to me one by one, and I’m delving into the world of German folktales and mythology, Greek mythology, German history… I’m reading at the level of a German fifth grader in German right now, but it’s amazing just how much good literature there is for the less proficient at reading here. But I digress.

Among the books she sent me is my very well-worn copy of Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach– I had to re-read that book about five times to understand even a fraction of it.

Karen Marie Moning- now here’s an author that kept my fantasies very much occupied when I was a teen. I wanted a highlander sprung from a mirror, or at least a similarly perfect partner, or none at all.  No wonder I was a nightmare date back then 😉

I still have two more boxes to unpack in this shipment, two more boxes full of childhood dreams, dead flies and the broken feathers cast off when I learned how to fly. These are my roots, and my wings, all in one. These were my friends, my confidantes, my extraordinary adventurous adventures.

These are my books.

(and don’t think I’ll easily accept them being discarded for pink mirrors and other chi-chi atrocities. There’s a talk waiting to be had, Mommy!)


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