Have you ever considered the bookmark? I mean really these scraps of paper that we use to keep our places in books so that we don’t have to. There are racks of them in book stores, little artworks ready for you to use your hard earned cash to purchase. An entire industry relying on the hope that you don’t have scraps of paper in your home or that refuse to fold the page over. I’ve had people make them for me, with scraps of fabric and beads. In times of desperation I have glanced at the page number and actually remembered what page I was on. I had a kid, I can’t do that anymore.
I am a devourer of books, I have about three going at any time (presently I am America and So Can You, The Sunday Philosophy Club, and Culturemakers). I also live by the motto, ‘life is too short to read bad literature,’ I’ve tossed aside quite a few novels if they didn’t prove to be quickly promising. Some may think this a moral failing. I used to make myself read everything I started and then once I didn’t and it was all over.
Back to the bookmarks…how many times have I started one of these books and had to stop reading only to glance wildly about looking desperately for something to save my place. Book jackets are received with relief and joy in these moments. It’s quite amazing what scraps have made their way in between the pages of my books. The last one that I took time to notice was the voicemail directions from the Fuller Seminary Guest House. In my poor suspicious mind I felt that this little piece of paper that had faithfully journeyed with me all the way from Pasadena to Nairobi was proof that we would be moving to Pasadena. Alas, I think I put too much stock in little scraps of paper.
Another one that I had stuck in the pages of a cookbook (yes, I read cookbooks for fun) was a flash card that I had made for learning Swahili. A language I have tried twice to learn, I was more successful the first time. The second attempt a bitter reminder of the dashed hope these two years has brought.
Scott has been using the same bookmark for almost three years, it’s my stepmother’s business card that proclaims that she is a friend of the Rancho Santa Margarita Library. How has he managed to keep this 2” x 3 1/2” piece of paper since they visited us in Colorado last Christmas, I don’t know. This little business card is a testament to the endurance of small objects. Maybe it’s a testament to the connections in our lives; we only see my stepmom a few times a year, but here is her little business card to prove that she is in our lives.
Sometimes I wonder at these little artifacts in our lives, these little things that show how we are and where we’ve been. This sweet junk that finds it’s way into our purses and pockets. I’ve always wondered if someone where to find my purse what would they think? Would they be able to tell who I really am? What I do for a living? What I love? Who I love? My Nalgene bottle that is from Deerfoot Lodge, has an In n’ Out sticker and a sticker from the Simple Lodge in Salida, Co, the random pacifier, my Leatherman (a gift from my brother), four lip glosses, a sketchbook, receipts, two driver’s licenses from very different places…