I forgot about this habit of mine. When I come home from college, I’m greeted by my parents, my sister(s). I get bowled over by the dog; I stay up late talking; I am usually offered leftovers. I expect this, long before I start thinking of packing. It’s routine, and it’s comforting every time.
But there’s another part of the routine that I’ve always forgotten. That’s when I’m standing alone in my bedroom for the first time in months. I put my bags down. I look around. And then I grab books off their dusty shelves and thumb through them.
I surf sentences at random, smiling at familiar characters or scenes. Eager me, grasping for familiarity of tone, of expression. Old friends. These books are my old friends.
Sometimes I wonder why I bother keeping all these books around if I don’t reread them often. They don’t get lent out, either, since most stay in Chicago rather than travel with me to Iowa. But when I came home over a week ago, I realized that this was why. These books have been loved, and they are loved whenever I pick them up, even if it’s just to feel their heft, their yellowed pages and bent bindings. The merest sentence can send me back to when I was a kid. It can whisper hello. It can embrace. These books are home almost as much as the house they rest in.
How is it I’ve always forgotten about this?