I think it was on a Seinfeld episode – wasn’t everything? The one where George wanted to get his books back from an old apartment, or girlfriend, and Jerry said, oh, just leave them, it’s not like you’re going to read them again… But I’m with George. I like having books around. Books that I’ve read and reread. All within reach. They are a comfort. Behind my left shoulder at the moment rest three of my favorites — To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; Just Kids, by Patti Smith; and A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway.
You are probably familiar with two of them for sure, but maybe not the one by Patti Smith — Just Kids. It is a memoir of her days growing up in New York. A New York long gone. Days of artists of all kinds, working together, in possibly the worst of surroundings, but maybe the best of conditions (these collaborations – these times of creativity, unregulated, unmatched). They were young, for sure, but they had the spirit of children. It’s like Picasso says, “Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain…”
My mother-in-law, Lucie, is entering a new phase. It is challenging to say the least. At first glance it is heartbreaking to see the changes… I want to look beyond…but there are so many unknowns, so many questions. Patti Smith writes — “Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves.”
Lucie is talking to her parents now. She sees them. And I think, what a comfort for her. She says they are eager to be with her. She is returning to her childhood. She is becoming an artist once again, and it is beautiful. She is being led to the ones she loves. We are all being led to each other.
So yes, George, I need the books too. I need these words of comfort. Beside me. Within me. I read the old ones. I write the news ones. And with each word, I become a little more myself.