Up until a few days ago Sandy-May’s books were still in boxes against the wall in Tina’s old bedroom, where they’d been since last fall (when I hauled the boxes out of the carport to find something for that miserable bookclub I let myself be roped into). Now and again, I’d squat to my haunches, pull out a book and start reading. More often than not I’d soon lose interest, put the book back in its box and drift off to do whatever, in the back of my mind thinking I should really get a decent set of shelves to do the books some justice. Which I finally did a few days ago.
A small tribute to my good lady.
The books look great and they’ve spun some magic on the room. It’s funny, with the renovations I’d thought of pulling down the walls. To open up the space. But something stopped me. Made me ponder the thrust of such a decision. I’d be altering the cabin’s energy. Losing a deep pool of memories that stretched back to the days when Phillip and me did battle over who’d get the top bunk. Ultimately, the gravity of preserving this wellspring of memories trumped any other consideration.
For this I am a happy man.
True, the room was essentially wasted space for almost three years. Merely a place to put things I didn’t know what else to do with. Like the books. But with the simple addition of a bookcase things have taken an unexpected turn for the better. I’ve gotten rid of the bed and moved my desk in—it fits perfectly beneath the window, which looks onto the lake. Today I enlisted Frantisek’s assistance to deliver a new recliner, a floor lamp, another set of shelves, and a goodly-sized coffee table.
And now, hours later, I’m sitting at my desk. It’s raining. There is darkness out the window.
I’m drawn to the books.
To say that they represent Sandy-May underestimates their importance. In a way they are Sandy-May. They were touched by her hands, yes. But there’s more. These particular books were selected to be part of a collection that, in short, was intended to be housed here at the cabin. Where we foresaw spending a good portion of our retirement.
On top of the bookcase are three books I set aside when unpacking the boxes. East of Eden. Leaves of Grass. Catcher in the Rye
Sandy-May and I spent our honeymoon here at the cabin. Eight blissful days to kick off the officially avowed stage of our life together. The first thing she did upon entering as Mrs Spencer Kavanaugh? Put the aforementioned three books onto the shelf by the fireplace.
“Don’t they just look perfect!”
Thus began the Cabin Collection.
She was so thrilled.
I step over to the bookcase. Handle each book in turn. Eventually opting for Catcher in the Rye, I stand there reading the first two chapters.
They flow so easily I want more.
I make tea, put on some Randy Newman in the other room, set my mug on the coffee table, turn on the floorlamp, sit in my new recliner to continue reading Salinger. For some reason I’m transfixed by the opening lines of chapter 3. I repeat them in my head numerous times. And then something wonderful happens as I start to say them aloud:
“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.”
The lamplight seems to get brighter.
Yes, the lamplight is definitely brighter.
“If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera.”
Brightness all along.
To test, I continue reading silently. The light dims. I read aloud. The light brightens.
She didn’t get the chance to dig into her Cabin Collection. But there’s no reason in the world I can’t read them to her.
Mmm. It sure does feel right in here. A perfect space to liaise in. Yes, liaise.