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Welcome to my office. I can really use your help. As you can see, the floor is littered with papers, photos, unlabeled CDs, chargers from cell phones past. These I can deal with. I shove them into boxes and move them around like cups in a shell game. If I can't remember where they are, so what? They are there. That's what matters.

What I am staring at are the books on the shelves lining the walls. These are my special books. The ones that made it past the culling that condemned the others to the dust and cobwebs of the loft. The ones for which I have some surpassing almost mystical fondness. The ones that guests look at when my back is turned, hoping to read me like notes left in a confessional. I haven't looked at any of the chosen few for years. They're not me. They're who I have been. My wax museum of former loves. Some day, yes, I might flip through one and re-experience something I once thought important enough to save. But looking back has never worked for me. It's either, "How could I ever have thought or done that?" Or "Hey, that was great. I could've been a contender."

I'm also superstitious. If I get rid of a book, I'm absolutely sure that something bad will happen to me.  I never throw books away. It would be throwing live creatures into the trash. I just leave them somewhere or NIMBY them to bookstores or charities. Even ones I don't like.

But these, these books are my babies. Some have been with me half my life. I know that letting them go would free me, lighten my ship as it battles the waves of the unknown. I have a past. So what? No need to constantly remind myself of it. I know I won't fall apart without my little blue blanket of books. One moment of possible joy can't be worth the space they occupy.

All right, I admit it. I don't know what to do with them. That's why I invited you in.


With a Perspective, I'm Richard Friedlander.