It’s odd how objects become important to you.
The ones that really matter are not usually the objects that would be important to anyone else. The ones that really matter are the ones that no self-respecting thief would think to take and nobody would pay any money for, but they’re priceless to you. They mean things, because they have stories.
I’ve always been a reader, at least as long as I can remember. I learned to read fairly early and for most of my life I’ve never been more than a few feet from a book I was reading. It’s what I do for work. It’s what I do for fun. It’s my great vice. As vices go it’s not so bad, really – they’re inexpensive, nonperishable, generally good for your mental health, and unlikely to land you in trouble with the law, at least in the US, at least for now.
It’s been a long time since I read the sort of books that you could finish in one sitting, which means that I need bookmarks to let me know where to pick up when I come to a convenient stopping point in the ordinary concerns of regular life and can finally get back to my book. Sometimes this is just whatever random scrap of paper comes to hand when it’s time to close the covers.
And sometimes it’s not.
When my children were much younger, they made me bookmarks.
Oliver made the first one – the white one on the bottom of the photo. Lauren, who has never been one to be outdone by her sibling, made the orange one not long after that. At some point later the orange one got mislaid in my office for a few weeks so she made me the pink one to take its place. It was a good day when the orange one turned up again and I was back to my full complement of bookmarks.
If you can’t tell, the two figures in the middle of the orange one are Lauren and me, looking off into the sunset together. We’re at a beach, if I recall her explanation correctly.
For a long time these were the only bookmarks I would use. I carted them (and whatever books they were in) across the country, to work, and generally wherever I went.
But after a while the thought of losing them just made me worry too much, so I put them on my bookshelf where I could keep an eye on them, these things that my children had made for me because they knew how much I’d like them.
I don’t get out much these days. Most people of goodwill don’t, after all, unless it’s essential. Which means that whatever book I am reading at the moment spends its days making the slow cycle from home office to living room to bedroom and back again. They don’t leave the house either.
So I’ve pulled out my bookmarks for service again, and they keep me company now.
My children are older now – adults in their own right, either officially or unofficially so. But I remember when they were younger and gave me bookmarks because they knew I’d like them. And because of that these small objects are important to me, and always will be.