Karen White’s After The Rain – The Only Book I Need by Serena Mooring
I could only fit one book in my car when I moved. One book. My transportation to Florida was a tiny hatchback which had to hold all my worldly possessions; clothes, computer, shoes, kitchen equipment and one very irritated cat named Wibur who still hasn’t forgiven me for stuffing him into a very comfortable cat carrier for the two day drive. He showed his displeasure by wedging himself under the drivers seat somewhere around South Carolina and refusing to come out until I bribed him with a McDonalds cheeseburger. After placing most of my furniture and much loved belongings in a storage unit, my whole life consisted of three large totes, three suitcases and small miscellaneous items I could stuff in the small spaces in between them. Most kids bring more than that when they go to college. I was planning to start a new life this way.
Before I moved, my book collection consisted of nearly a thousand titles. I greedily held on to every one. Even if I didn’t enjoy the read, I still felt the need to keep the book. My dream was to own a used bookstore/coffee shop someday. I believed my book collection was the start of my store inventory. It was an investment. I had crates of them in the attic and in the basement. They were crammed in bookcases and piled artfully on the floor. If anyone mentioned they had books to give away, I held my hand up high to take them. But, this was all for not. I had to move away and start a new life. My books…my babies…could not come with me. My storage unit was only large enough for my furniture, not my library. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to pack them all away for months. So I donated the entire collection (minus two cases of my favorites) to the local library. I’m pretty sure those little ladies are still cataloging everything and will be for months to come. They were pleasantly surprised, if not significantly overwhelmed. It was the largest donation they had seen in years.
In my haste to pack and leave before the next snowstorm hit and trapped me for another week – I lived in Massachusetts and we were experiencing a record number of snow storms – I never thought about a book for the road. I had snuggled ten of my favorite cookbooks under the backseat. But, I didn’t think about the literary mind candy I would need when I got to my final destination. I was more concerned with stuffing the contents of my closet in Space Bags or packing up the paperwork in my office to ship to a friend who would hold it until I moved into my condo. Books never entered my mind.
During a final sweep of the house – which happened around midnight the night before I left – I spotted a forgotten paperback hidden under a pile of magazines on the coffee table. After the Rain by Karen White. I had purchased it weeks ago on a whim because I enjoyed the cover. Strange how many of us choose to purchase a book that way. It’s like those beautifully wrapped chocolate bars. You know it’s just a glorified Hersey bar, but the silver wrapper makes it look so much more delicious. The next morning, I tossed After the Rain on the front seat next to the disapproving Wilbur and began my journey.
I made it as far as North Carolina before my eyes began to droop from the 13 hour drive and my stomach reminded me that a diet of yogurt, granola and a chili dog was not sufficient for travel. Wilbur and I tucked ourselves in a hotel room for the night – I got room service and Wilbur, who was completely out of sorts by then, decided to perform a hunger strike to show me how much he didn’t like this whole driving South idea. I curled up in bed and grabbed my one and only book. After the Rain proved to be just what a weary traveler who was contemplating her life changes needed. The main character, Suzanne lands unexpectedly in the town of Walton, Georgia after a painful past and slowly begins to build a life for herself, making new friends and finding love. Strange how the one book I chose to carry with me closely mirrored my own life. I am a week in to building a new life for myself, I have some wonderful friends, I’ve made some new ones and hopefully, some day, I will find love again.
On my 6th day in Florida it rained. Days away from moving into my condo, I was staying at a friends house. Sitting in my room, with no way to distract myself with outside activities, I began to get inside my own head. What a scary and dangerous place that is. All the pressure of moving, finding a job and the big :”What if’s” started creeping out. I sat at the dining room table, with my head in my hands and sobbed; my tears mirroring the rain that poured down outside. I sat there for an hour after my sobfest and stared out the window at the rain. Then, slowly, it began to taper off until it stopped entirely. Eager to be out of the house, I cautiously peered out the front door just as a huge beam of sunlight shot through the dark clouds. Everything around me glistened, the humid air allowing the fragrance of the plants to intensify and perfume the air. The tears on my face had dried and I felt the moist breeze caress my face.
I’m going to be ok. Just like the book, everything is better after the rain.
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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