A beautiful new book purchased as research for writing my fiction sits innocently on the café table. When I fan the pages to indulge in the fresh press smell, it mocks me. But I don’t recognize its unfamiliar, bogus tone as I replace it on the table close to me, in order to appreciate it with frequent lover’s glances. I turn to a gifted, used, older book with great wisdom on how to write dialogue and forget about my infatuation with the new book. Journaling ferociously about soliloquies and foils, I have gracefully begun courting the Muse.
In my altered state, my fleece entrenched arms reach around my full, carnation-white mug to consult my laptop for definitions and synonyms. Jersey-cow colored coffee spills all over my new, slighted book with unrequited love, my spill-proof mug sitting nearby, unused. A puddle rests on my laptop, but I am more concerned about my new book. My most prized possessions are my books, especially the brand new ones, impregnated with unique word sequences and immaculate odors.
My face falls like the girl who got the wrong Barbie for Christmas. It’s all wrong. Ruined. I throw an internal tantrum at my stupidity. Having told myself several times to move the mug, I now torment myself with reminders of my responses: I’ll be careful. I know it’s there. Holding my once perfect lover now mysteriously disfigured, I get up to retrieve a towel to begin sopping up the mess. My writing friends exclaim, “It has character now.” “It’s not so bad – just a few pages got it.”
And they are right.
Attachment to my books has lessened over the years, but today I realize it still needs work. They are not my lover, slighted or otherwise. They take turns sitting on the shelf, sometimes neglected for years. They are pages that desire a life well lived, not unlike myself. But instead of being thankful for the coffee stains and dog-ears on my pages, the deeply creased spine and curling leafs, I have been careful with my life, fearful of survival, pleasure and everything in between.
I will forever look at this book and be reminded of that morning in the café with my friends. I am glad for the stains and reminded to pursue the more adventurous life that I dream of. And that adventurous life has begun with the shifting of attachment and fear to the willingness and cultivation of the marred, perfectly imperfect page of my life.