What Books Say

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Late at night, when I’m the last human awake, and even Ruby is shut down save one ear perked in my direction, I become strangely energized.  Perhaps I absorb what others aren’t using.

This energy tends to manifest itself in rifling.  You know, rifling.  Digging through piles and bins and closets, not unlike my mouse friend.  This evening, I had in my sights my college Rubbermaids.  Green and turquoise plastic, all but indestructible, they still hold most of my senior year beneath their carefully labeled lids.  On top, you won’t find much of interest: clothes, a few stray commencement programs, opened sheafs of printer paper …  as tends to happen with bins and drawers and people, all the good stuff has sifted to the innermost corners.

In those corners, I find what I’m looking for.  My textbooks.  I’ve avoided these since May.  Partly because I didn’t have room for them on my crammed bedroom shelves, partly because I knew I wouldn’t exactly have a sudden desire to reread them, and partly because they remind me of what I’m missing.

Tonight, however, I tugged them all from their chains of creased University Register issues, half-empty pens, and mateless socks.  I brought them back to my room and piled them on my bed.  There’s To the Lighthouse, which I talked about and wrote about and agonized over last year more than any other book before or since.  There’s Vendler’s Poems, Poets, Poetry from freshman year, which I didn’t write in because I was at that time (naively) opposed to such “desecration.”  There are at least six Norton anthologies, one for every era of literature in America and Britain.  The gang’s all here.

I don’t often allow myself to sit down and miss college.  Because I know, as I knew at the time of graduation, that I am ready to move into something new, that I experienced and learned and grew exactly the way I needed to during my undergraduate years.  But suddenly, sitting on my bed surrounded by textbooks still spitting dog-eared post-its from their pages, I miss it.

And I think of my revelation while laying next to Ponyboy and Cherry, waiting for them to fall asleep.  And I know that for now, being out in the world, and striving to be even more out in the world is what I need to be doing.  But I still think, as I look around at these glorious books and still desire more, that perhaps I’m not done with higher education yet.

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