At some point, maybe when you are 31, maybe when you are 25, you realize you have been sleeping on a mattress on your floor for one and a half years. It is not something that surprises you, because, in fact, it was no oversight that left you without a bed-frame. You sold it in a fury of adventure one and a half years ago for $25 and haven't missed it since. But now you are 31, or 25, and your name is not only the primary name on your lease, but, in fact, the only name.
It seems you're to stay put for a while at least.
So you make plans to buy a bed-frame, an inexpensive one that you won't feel badly about selling for another $25 in your next fury of adventure. You begin to move your furniture around your small room, cursing under your breath about the fact that you have accumulated so much in one and a half years.
But it is your bookshelf that you curse the most.
Your rule is simple, only own books that fit on this shelf.
You impose this rule on yourself because one and a half years ago you had two floor to ceiling bookcases packed to the edges and stacked to the brim with books. Your life savings in page form. Worth a fortune to you and anyone else, but also sold in your fury of adventure for pennies.
You have no plans of reenacting that particular adventure again.
So three shelves on a simple wooden bookshelf bought in 2006 from an overpriced thrift store in your small college town.
The routine is familiar (if you cannot have a real adventure, you create adventure monthly by rearranging your bedroom furniture once again) and all the books have to come off the shelves before it can be moved. This is not because you are not a brute of strength, because you are, but because that bookshelf has seen nine homes in its life with you and it cannot bear the agony of a burdened move again. It will be sure to crumble under the weight of those books and so you brace yourself with each move for the end of its life.
It has withstood the test of time, six years worth, you count in your mind as you reorder those books on those three shelves. You have about a half a shelf left to fill before you've reached your law of allotted books. So there is not one book on these shelves that doesn't matter to you in some very deep way.
In the Great Book Sale of 2010 you only let yourself keep the books which changed you in some way. You were not allowed to keep books you had never read. No keeping books that could be found at any used bookstore easily. No keeping books with which you hadn't had some impacting moment. If they were underlined, scribbled in margins, and had multiple dog-eared pages, this was a sure sign of a keeper.
Sometimes the books on these shelves surprise you. You find yourself disagreeing with things you once wept through. You find yourself disappointed at directions authors have since taken. You really don't even like the writing in some. You know a few of the authors now and you know that they are just people, just like you. But sometimes, when you have finished shelving the last of the books again, a memoir or book on writing, or your favorite book of poetry, you run your finger down the length of them, across the bindings, remember every used bookstore from which you have gotten them and every tear that has been wept over them. You push against one side of that rickety bookshelf, half-willing it to crash and fall under the weight of so much richness, but you are comforted to know that it doesn't.
It, who has moved so many times, and had so many adventures, and carried so many good books, it stands. It bears. It holds, solid and firm.
Soon to be coupled with a simple wooden bed-frame to adventure alongside.