I just unpacked my one-thousand-book collection. Ten years ago, I packed it up and stored it in Rubbermaid tubs in a damp garage two blocks from the ocean. I was in the middle of a divorce, and I sold all the bookcases in my divorce house so that I wouldn’t have to move them.
This past year I found and bought seven bookcases. Only two of them match. Two more of them are antiques, one is vintage, one is made from crappy fake wood. Another one only cost $12.00. At any rate, once the bookcases were in place, it was time to unpack.
Tub after tub revealed treasures, famous classics with colored print covers, marvelous end papers and lovely drawings. Others left me scratching my head. The bloom was off the rose for those, and I donated them. Others reminded me that I have a lot of reading to catch up on – Homer for Boys and Girls as a start.
Fewer than ten books were damaged. Three of them had their spines fall off, two of them turned moldy. A couple had chewed-up corners that had to have happened before they were packed. The rest survived.
Those Rubbermaid tubs are a miracle. Someday, when humans have gone extinct, the aliens will come here and wonder about those blue plastic marvels that refuse to bio-degrade.
“What were they for?” the aliens will ask one another as they shake their upper extremities.
But I digress.
I discovered as I unpacked tub after tub and sorted the books into categories, that I had collected about thirty music books – songs for children, folk songs, Stephen Foster books, one just like the one that my grandmother had on her piano for sing-alongs.
Music books, song books, song textbooks when music was a school subject. My sub-conscious self had been screaming at me for twenty-two years that I needed to sing again.
I married a tone-deaf guy whose own mother said that he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. The first time I sang for him, he laughed at me. That may have also been the last time I sang for him, except for Happy Birthday.
Little did I know that he laughed because I was doing something that he could not do, that he had to put me down to save himself from embarrassment.
Ah, to be older and so much wiser today . . .
I am currently in a big chorus, a jazz group, and a smaller sing-along group for nursing homes. Singing is a huge part of who I am these days. For twenty-two years, I sang along to the radio, sang to my children in the bathtub (Rubber Ducky, you’re so fine), sang at church, and sang while I cleaned the bathrooms.
About sixteen years ago, I got up the nerve to sing in my church’s small and needy chorus. The director even recorded my tenor part for me so that I could learn it. I’m not too good at sight-reading the notes. The church choir experience only lasted a couple of seasons, though, because the worship director had a problem with pornography, got caught on the church computer, and got the boot. The church choir disbanded after that. It looked like my singing days were over.
But then after separating from my spouse I found a club where people went out regularly to sing karaoke. I tried that a few times, but singing and drinking don’t really work well together. Then a boyfriend expressed interest in joining a chorus.
It feels like the universe had a hand in this. The very first guy (okay, third guy) that I dated after separating from my husband, was a big singer and wanted to sing in an organized way, something I hadn’t done since 9th grade, (if you don’t count singing with the porn guy at church for 12 months).
Now, having unpacked the books, I see that I missed singing all those years I was collecting the song books. My subconscious self wanted me to sing again, but I was mired in a bad marriage, raising three brilliant children pretty much by myself while my working husband flew around the country and showed up from time to time to check in with his family.
I have a lot more to say about my book collection, but my time is up for today.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
I should’ve stuck with the disorganized chorus teacher in ninth grade instead of dropping out to take the home ec class with my friends.