For weeks I tripped over a cardboard box of books in the garage. I cussed, kicked the box, wondered from where it came. I made a mental note to move it to the trunk of my car to take to the recycling center. Except the trunk of my car was filled with bags of paper that needed shredding and clothing destined for the donation bin.
One day I couldn’t take it any more. I overturned the box. Onto the concrete floor spilled volumes of those “complete idiot” guides and the “for dummies” books, along with some kindling in the form of a Rush Limbaugh book, some unknown volumes and this trio of curiosity:
I picked up the paperback “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich and suddenly I was a junior in college, swept away by the flowing prose of D.H. Lawrence and satire of Swift. I wasn’t assigned Erdrich; I stole it from my then-boyfriend who’d become my husband (and discover my petty thievery) and is now my ex. (Apparently the book has traveled full circle into my life again.) I fell in love with Erdrich and her then-husband Michael Dorris and their deeply moving stories of Native American life.
As I fanned the pages, picking up the musty, smoky scent of time, scanning the highlighted passages, I remembered the day my ex and I divided our book and CD collection into two piles: his and mine. The Erdrich collection, the Dorris, the Dylan and Rolling Stones CDs remained in his pile.
The box was from my ex.
I can understand the need to thin the book collection, to maybe be nice and give me the book I’ve always liked more than he did. I cannot understand “Road Map to Ecstasy.”
They arrived via Girl from the West’s car. Perhaps he knows her well enough that a sex book in a box of boring books is a book that won’t be touched. Perhaps he no longer needs a guidebook.
I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll never know.
I’m choosing to say thank you.
Thank you, ex-husband, for the sex manual and the literary classics, not doubt selected to read afterward, in front of the fire, started with the Rush Limbaugh book.