The 1001 and the Blessed Silence by Serena Mooring
There is only so much you can do when you don’t have somewhere to go everyday: a job, a place, a purpose. After breakfast has been made and eaten, after the coffee has been drunk and the pot has been cleaned, what do you do? The house is tidy beyond recognition and you’ve cleaned out every closet – twice, boxes have been packed and labeled, items have been sorted, cataloged or discarded. You’ve bagged and donated all the clothes that fit you 17 lbs ago. You canceled your gym membership and allowed your yoga studio contract to expire. None of the 103 people you’ve “friended” on Facebook have posted anything in hours; probably because they have jobs and responsibilities. You’ve already had the same argument about your failing marriage with your Mom that you had the day before. She still thinks you should move to Ohio so you’ll be “nearby”. (shudder at the thought). You’ve visited all the memorable places from your childhood: the house you grew up in, your high school, Scargo Tower, Nauset Beach, Princess Lake, Nickerson State Park. You’ve hiked for hours on the nature trails and run for miles down historic Route 6A. Your passion for cooking and food, which use to border on obsessive, has been reduced to homemade soups, oatmeal and the occasional inventive sandwich. You.Are.Bored.
What do you do while fate decides your next step? Well, I’ll tell you I won’t be sitting in Starbucks listening to bad jazz and whiny housewives – like I am right now.
Before the apocalypse, (aka – quitting my job, the removal of my soul by my in-laws and the eventual destruction of my marriage), my mother had asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I always have to think of an item because asking for a gift card to a clothing store is wrong in her book. You cannot “open” a gift card. She cannot watch you enjoy a gift card. So, to appease, I asked for a book I’d been eyeing; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This was something I could accomplish unlike the 1001 Place to Visit. I am not going to Antarctica. I don’t care how cool it would be.
I’ve read over 20 books in the past week. Mostly cheesy romances with a few thrillers thrown in. I recently donated my entire collection – minus a handful of favorites – to a local library. Over a thousand titles in mint condition are currently shelved for public pleasure courtesy of yours truly. How the hell could I pack and move that many books anyway?
The other day, I cracked the spine of 1001 to see what it was all about. I thumbed by pictures of classics, foreign novels and new age hooey. I noted the ones I had read in my youth – my grandmother was a teacher so summer reading lists weren’t so much “suggested” as they were mandatory. Books have always been my first love. They were a means of escape, a chance to have different lovers, to visit the unknown and to be someone else if only for a few hours. This past month they have been a sanity saver. As I work to unravel, pack and put to rest the last 14 years of my life, books have been there to soothe me. The well known characters have welcomed me into their complicated lives. I have been present while they work through their problems – more often than not, these problems are more complicated than mine. After all, I didn’t just find out there is a murderer on the loose who is stalking me while I’m trying to figure out the dark and complex past of the mysterious stranger I just met at my new job as a fashion photographer. And I thought my life was stressful.
The most important part of this literary therapy is the silence. The calm, cool silence. During the past few months, I have been overwhelmed with advice from every person I know. Everyone has an opinion and each person has taken a side. Everyone knows someone, who knows someone who has been through something similar but not quite the same thing as what I’m going through. Won’t I listen to their advice? Maybe I should see the same marriage counselor they used. You know, it really worked for them. Well, it worked for 6 months and they eventually got a divorce and are married to different people now. But, you never know, it could work for you.
The characters in the novels never ask me questions. They never take sides. They don’t want me to move to Ohio. The only advice they offer is their experiences. They are blissfully silent. Comfortably silent. Soothingly silent.
967 to go. I have started with The Elegance of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry. Paris….here I come.
Serena Mooring is a freelance writer, bibliophile and foodie who says it like it is and doesn’t have an edit button. When she isn’t reading, writing, cooking or eating, she can be found embarrassing her friends with her outgoing personality, trolling used bookstores for vintage cookbooks or crying into a bottle of wine. She has never won any literary awards, published a book or anything else that would require serious commitment as a writer. But she’s seriously thinking about it now that she doesn’t have a real job. You can read more of her ramblings at www.utterlysinful.com or follow her ridiculous daily musings on Facebook at facebook.com/utterlysinful or on Twitter @utterlysinful. She isn’t for the faint of heart.
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