We spend time together almost everyday: Josephine, Margaret, Frances, Georgette, Dana, Jane, and I. One-on-one, we share lunch or that quiet time after my son Muffin Man is in bed. Every time I see them, I experience something new. There are others I have lunch with, or spend those quiet hours with, but Josephine and the others are my core-group of companions. We take trips together. We meet on visits to the doctor’s office. Often, one will go with me when I get the oil changed in my car.
Aside from Frances, they are a different set of friends from those I had when I was young. Back then it was Frances, Laura, Lucy, Paula, Noel, and Agatha. They rode the subway to school with me. I sat with them at lunch and recess. My fifth grade teacher actually had to limit my time with them, because my other friends were feeling left out.
In bed at night I used to hide under the blankets with a flashlight just to steal one more half-hour with one or another of them. My mom learned pretty quickly to come and check on me often. "Lights out, Little Miss Mystery Mommy. Put the book away. It’ll still be there in the morning."
Joesephine Tey, Margaret Maron, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Georgette Heyer, Dana Stabenow, Jane Austen. Such wonderful writing, such fascinating worlds: The United Kingdom during the Regency Era, the Victorian Era, and between the World Wars; Our own present-day heartland, cities, and wilderness. I fall in love with the places as much as the people. And when I come back from reading or re-reading one of their books, I get a new appreciation for my own small world, seeing it through fresh eyes.
More than any one person, these authors have influenced who I am and what my morals are. From Laura Ingalls Wilder I learned to be grateful for what I had - how could I complain when she had subsisted on hand-ground whole-wheat bread for an entire winter, twisting hay into sticks for the fire? From Noel Streatfeild I learned about how war affects children and that even children can help their families earn enough money to keep afloat. Paula Danziger taught me to face disappointment with humour and that my family’s odd arrangement of four parents and joint custody might not be so unusual after all. Agatha Christie (and before her, the authors of "Nancy Drew") taught me to pay attention to the littlest details. And that "humour" is spelled with two u’s.
I said that these authors are my companions, but really it’s their books that have been my friends. Their books have taught me and nurtured me, comforted me and helped me to grieve. Beloved old familiar books, intriguing newly discovered books. Used books that smell of pipe tobacco. New books with shiny fresh covers. Library books, reluctantly returned. Memoirs, mysteries, science-fiction, histories - how delightful just to read, and laugh, or weep. And now that I’m a mother - with a young son who needs me rested every morning - how strangely sweet it is to say to myself sometimes, "Lights out, Mystery Mommy. Put the book away. It’ll still be there in the morning."
Through My Glasses, Dorkily
5 years ago