It's a long way from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon – somewhere, according to Google Maps, in the realm of 3,300 miles depending on which highway you drive – and the moving company is going to charge a lot of money for that trip.
To keep the price down when moving day arrives, I am divesting myself of as much stuff as possible. There were 75 boxes of books when I moved here from New York City; I'd like to reduce that by half for this next move.
I was recently introduced to a fascinating, young woman named Michelle Soliere. For the past several years, she has been the author of an ongoing series of stories titled, Strange Maine (soon to be a book), described on her website as:
“Freaks. Weirdos. Unmapped roads. Whispering rocks. Deadening fog. Ghost pirates. Lonely islands. THINGS in the WOODS. Home of Stephen King & Glenn Chadbourne. A place where the 4 seasons really know how to live.
“Maine: the way life should be! This site is a nexus for conversation about Maine's unique strangeness, people who love it, people who have experienced it, & people who are intrigued by it. History, mysteries, legends, current events, cryptozoology, & more.”
Last November, Michelle opened a used book store in Portland, The Green Hand, and appeared eager, when we spoke a couple of weeks ago, to purchase any and all books I am willing to part with. Yesterday she and her husband, Tristan, arrived at 8AM for our first session at weeding out my library.
Every inch of my shelves was full – nay, overflowing - when they arrived. Here is what it looked like after they left at 10AM:
There are probably as many books spread through three other rooms in the house, so this doesn't seem like much progress to me. Michelle and Tristan will be back next Tuesday for another go.
I did the best I could at hiding my anxiety at parting with these old and new companions. I think I kept any dithering to a minimum. I'll never read John LeCarre again, but he has given me much reading pleasure over all my adult life; it seemed unkind to remove him.
It's amazing how large my collection of books on various aspects of aging has become. Since I don't intend to quit this blog any time soon, I decided to keep all of those except the for worst kind of trash I am sometimes sent – the how to stay young forever claptrap.
Of course, I kept everything written by friends, living and dead, and all of Gore Vidal – not a friend in the ordinary sense; I've never met him – but a lifelong friend, nevertheless, in the written word – one of the handful of writers I re-read with regularity.
You can bet money and win that it will not be long before I'm wondering why I can't find a certain book and then remember – in fury with myself or sadness – that I sold it to Michelle. In fact, that will probably go on for years. It's not easy letting go.
I am writing this in the late morning on Thursday, right after Michelle and Tristan left and now I must stop. Removing all these books – even if nowhere near enough yet – revealed an amazing amount of dust on the shelves that needs to be cleaned before Friday house showings. This was not how I planned to spend Thursday afternoon.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia Mayo: Middle Cotton