A few weeks ago I bought a book. This, though it may seem to you rather insignificant, was a significant event indeed- as significant perhaps as the unearthing of Atlantis, or the discovery of winged llamas. I may exaggerate slightly.
But it is significant to me (ugh, I’m beginning sentences with conjunctions now?) because I do not ever buy books, simply because I do not read them. Or I sort of do (again, dammit?!), just sort of not in a normal sort of way. As a child and a teenager, books were my most favourite things and at any opportunity I would be reading. My Mum even commented once that should she ever need to ground me or take away any electronic privileges as a result of me stabbing someone in the face repeatedly, it wouldn’t make a difference to me, because I’d be reading… and only a monstrous parent would deprive a child of the joy of books. As life progressed, as it does, I continued to love reading until I began University where reading for pleasure was replaced by searching book indexes for a specific paragraph, reading that and the surrounding text
briefly studiously, and then moving on. By the time I graduated I hadn’t fully read a whole book in approximately three years. It would be fair to say I had fallen out of love with reading.
At the same time my crazies also began to develop more fully- not only was I compelled to vacuum at 10:00pm, but I also started to listen to music only in alphabetical order by artist, watched TV only when sitting in a certain way, read books for ‘pleasure’ (as much pleasure as can be derived from my head forcing me to read) in order by category, and then by author. Hello OCPD. As a result of this, and even now, my bookshelf became an ominous task- I had to start at the beginning, and finish at the end. Anything I didn’t want to read had to be read if it was next on the list, anything I did want to read couldn’t be read until the list permitted. Yet as my schedules kept imploding I was required constantly to start again at the beginning of the list (and still I am only on the first category of books). Anything I wanted to read which was later down the list would have to wait, and the waiting time grew to years as my brain went KA-BOOM and required another restart again and again.
The whole thing makes me sad but it just doesn’t make logical sense to me to be able to do things out of order, even though I have set the order myself. I am essentially my own executioner (I do love powerful exaggerations), the spoiler of my own fun, the person pissing on my own bonfire… actually, no, ew. Thus, anyway, I don’t buy books because I will never get round to reading them. However, occasionally I would have a troubling thought flail around inside my head. As a child I would read anything- my favourite author was Deric Longden, but I would also read factual accounts of people who had suffered horrible fates, which probably explains a great deal. Then for one of my birthdays, and likely demonstrating the impending doom of my parent’s marriage, my mother bought me a book- Snowball the Pony & Other Stories, by Enid Blyton. My Dad had also bought me a book- Lord of the Flies by William Golding, or something else gory and wonderful like that. My Mum looked at the book my Dad had given me and only said. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know you liked things like that’, and to this day my lasting emotional impression of that particular birthday was the sense of letting my Mum down horribly, for not having a natural attraction to books about ponies.
Despite the guilt I never read the book and yet as a 23 year old with a full-time job, and a boyfriend, and a house, I sometimes would stare at my bookcase and feel a horrible sense of loss. The book hadn’t followed me into my house, it had been lost within the ethers of time. I had treated it unfairly. As a child when my crazies were still waiting to emerge, I hadn’t taken the time to read about Snowball. Now, as a mentally deficient, guilt-ridden, organisational maniac I had no chance to read it at all. It was a story I had ignored, and then had lost. Again I was pissing on my own bonfire. It was probably about time to stop pissing everywhere so much. So, I bought a book…
… under the influence of guilt. Importantly though, not under the influence of my schedule. Am I getting better? Probably not. I won’t read it for years, and even when I do get there, I will perhaps be calm enough to pass over it once more. Perhaps Snowball will forever be a miserable mystery to me, but at least I can give myself the choice now. Guilt can be destructive, but sometimes too, it can lead you to ponies.
And I think that’s pretty significant.