The trip to the house on the coast, to rebuild it into something glorious? Well, it was a bit depressing to me. Not only the rockers and the happy face meth sign at the pulp mill hotel/bar/liquor store down the way, and the somewhat gloomy May weather, but also because of this: This is the wall of books that was left behind. The old woman who lived alone in this house until she died a few years ago was an avid reader. When her family cleared out her belongings, for some reason, they chose to leave her library behind. The problem is that I am also an avid reader. The other problem is that since we are/were both avid readers it becomes fairly easy for my brain to fold my life into the remains of her life and quickly imagine that I too will die alone, surrounded by books. Likewise, I hasten to imagine some future woman will one day come to pack up my mouldy offerings and herself create some cockamamie narrative about my vulnerability and loneliness. My books would be on a nicer shelf, and would not tend towards epic love sagas from the early 1980s, but as evidence of a life lived, those things are of almost no consequence. The old lady was showing me that things outlast their persons, that life passes and if you leave behind a passel of books, some romantically inclined person is going to go all sad, imagining you sitting there with your dusty candies, throwing your beleaguered mind into bawdy literature whose purpose is either to keep company with your fading memories or enable you to ignore the day’s passing .
Imagining someone else’s sad life is not for the weak.