Friday, April 20, 2012

He used to carry my books

I was listening to this fantastic book last night at work called Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.  It was this seven and a half hour letter from a girl to her ex that explains why they broke up.  I do not think anyone I know would like this book.  It's snarky.  The humor is dry.  It has teenage drinking, sex, and swears.  Not saying that stuff doesn't seep into the psyche, but I have always had the knack of seeing past that stuff to what a book is really saying.  Because books all say something.  This book went so beautifully hand in hand with the book I listened to the night before, which was called, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, which is by Deb Caletti and which I did not have high hopes for as I listened to the first part of The Fortunes of Indigo Skye, also by Deb Caletti, got depressed and was so uninterested in the boring main character that I never finished it (unless I did and don't remember it, and that's just as bad), declared Caletti a wanna-be Sarah Dessen (even though I never like Dessen's books as much as the cover promises me I will) and vowed I would never try another one of her books. 

But to be fair, being over fifteen years old, I am not really in either author's target demographic.  I can be such a jerk that way sometimes.  Book snobs like me are really snobby.  As it turned out, I don't hate Caletti and will probably give her other books a try in the future.

Anyway, both books could have been called How To Break Up, and I thought that was pretty nifty because if there is a good handbook out there on realizing when it is time to break up with someone, I have never seen it, though a large part of that could be because I have never looked for something like that.  And you would want to have the information well in advance of breaking up, but I'm pretty sure that the information would not make one lick of sense until you had actually been through the terrible, heart-wrenching experience yourself.  And that would make a book on this topic pointless, or at least useless.

And well, anyway, there was this one line in Why We Broke Up that sparked this old memory I have of high school when Danny used to carry my backpack for me.  If you didn't know me in high school, I will let you in on something that is not a secret: Danny was my boyfriend.  For three years that boy was my boyfriend and among other nice things like buying me lunch when I forgot to bring lunch money, he carried my backpack along with his.  The line in the book said something about Min's boyfriend, Ed, carrying her backpack along with his, and I guess that's why I was thinking about my own backpack-hauling boyfriend experience.


I remember that it used to kind of agitate me when Danny would carry my books.  Don't get me wrong.  I knew it was sweet.  I knew I was a lucky girl.  But it used to agitate me because I knew something he didn't know.

I used to pack in extra books as a kind of penance.  You know, like I thought carrying around my math book would somehow make up for not finishing my homework, or carrying personal reading books would make up for not enjoying my English reading assignments.  As if staying up until 2 a.m. and falling asleep with my head on the kitchen table every night was somehow not working hard enough.  I mean, what was wrong with me?  And if you didn't know about Danny, you could not possibly know that this is just the way I am.  Self-punishing.  Something like Silas in The DaVinci Code.

And of course I did not want for Danny to have to carry around my extra weight.  It made me feel bad.  And he always did it so gladly that I felt even worse.  But the thing was, he would have carried one book or twenty books.  I mean, he really would have, he was that nice, and he'd have been happy serving either way.

And of course you can tell now that my mind is turning to Christ and the Atonement and how we can pack so much extra stuff into the load that He carries for us.  Guilt, worry, sin, fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, grief.  Some of it's legitimate.  A lot of it is just this extra stuff we hang on to.

The specific memory I had was not really of Danny but of something that happened my senior year when Danny was long gone away to college, and I was standing in the lunch line alone, wearing my own backpack, feeling very short, and wishing that the tall boy next to me in line was not some strange sophomore who didn't know me, but Danny instead, and that Danny was carrying my backpack.

It's funny how you can not miss something until it is gone.  Even kind of resent it or take it for granted or let it agitate you.  Even if you  know it is sweet and special and divine, and even if you know you are a lucky girl. 

It might seem like the point of this post is to see how many times I can use the name Danny (10), and you could read it that way if you want.  But if you have the knack for seeing past that stuff, I'm hoping you're thinking about who is carrying your books.

Have a most excellent Friday, all.  (That's me waving)

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