I have more books than I really know what to do with. Ross and I spent most of Sunday going through our books and deciding, one by one, what we would keep and what we would trade-in or donate. We have a dozen boxes of books to get rid of. It was mind-boggling the amount of trashy books we both have. I have the added burden of having all the books Colin collected in his 32 years of life; not only did he also collect trashy books, he collected trashy books from the library that he never returned. So our local library got some books back they haven't seen since 1982. How embarrassing.
It felt really good to get rid of a lot of that stuff. I think I've talked about how I grow attached to objects and possessions; the same was true of Colin's books. I have kept them for years simply because I knew they were important to him, because I remember him telling me about how he felt when he read a particular book. We used to have silly conversations when we were first seeing each other, the sort of talk you have with the person you think you'll be with forever. He made me memorize his mother's maiden name, the place where he wanted his ashes spread; the names of his best friends, and where he went to school, and his worst experiences. We shared a love of books, of the written word; of the escape to be found in reading, especially fantasy novels. He turned me on to Heinlein and Philip K. Dick and George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut. He had a whole collection of books about conspiracy theories, and government's abuse of the little guy, and the art of speaking in public. He loved history, the history of society and government and people; he adored Howard Zinn. He had books on the occult, and books on the power of positive thinking, and books on how to make silencers. He downloaded text files from the web about homemade explosives and bound them all nice in report covers. I've been keeping all those books for far too long; they reminded me of a time before we partied too much, before we had enough money to pay all our bills, a time when Saturday night found us sitting cross legged on the living room floor with a pile of books and a pot of coffee between us, talking about the things we found really important, and the things that had helped us through our respective childhoods.
I have finally reached a point where it's okay for me to give his books away. I no longer feel like I'm giving away his best secret piece with them. My memories of him are not physically tied to his possessions; the memories don't bleed if I get rid of the objects. It's cleansing to do this; it feels like a tiny, sad piece of me is being healed, right this minute.