A Moveable Library
The Black Snake of Wounded Vanity is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Britney and I spent the day switching rooms. Meaning we took everything out of the larger bedroom and moved it into the smaller room which used to be her 17-year-old son’s room. The larger former bedroom is now my writing office and her workout room. The smaller room is our bedroom now. The transformation is quite remarkable. A writer never feels complete without his own space to create. At least I don’t.
It’s a slightly emotional time for me. I gave my thirty days’ notice to my landlady in late January. I have to be out by March 1st. A winter move. I go to Santa Barbara twice a week to walk dogs and see my folks. Each time I’ve stopped by my apartment and filled my car with stuff to bring back to Lompoc. Feels like the end of an era—18 months of caretaking for my terminally sick father. I left New York City for that. Ended up—of all places—in Santa Barbara, a glorious California paradise I nevertheless don’t understand. (It doesn’t understand me, either, I reckon.)
All that chaos with my father, the bonding and fights with my mother, the hospitals and ERs and blood transfusions and chemo and radiation etc. The loneliness and isolation, the depression and lostness; the anger at life, at How Things Are. The sadness of losing Manhattan. My dream city. Yet the profound meaningfulness of caring for my father, a man I never understood and who never understood me. The process of dating ceaselessly and almost giving up completely and then, at last, meeting Britney, as if everything else which came before led me precisely to her, now.
Most likely in a year-and-a-half we’ll move to the little house I own north of Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area. When her son is 18 and finished with high school. Until then we’ll be in Lompoc, a beautiful no-man’s land 50 minutes north of S.B. So it goes, as Vonnegut used to write.
Today was 90% boxes of my books being moved from one room to the next, and then putting the bookshelf together and filling it. Even then perhaps 100 books ended up on the floor and against the wall…for now. In 2020-2022 I “inherited” many books. (And I already had a lot, which I’d been lugging around for two decades.) Two main sources brought me a ton of books in these two years, besides my own obsessive, alcoholic-style book buying:
1. A good friend of a good writer friend of mine in the Upper West Side of Manhattan died in 2020. The man was 78. He’d been a semi-famous broadway actor. He had hundreds of books. Mostly classics. He wanted my writer friend to take care of his apartment and everything in it when he died. My writer friend called me and said I could come over and take what I want. I did.
2. My mother’s 92-year-old still-working friend in Santa Barbara. She was moving. She had a big and incredible collection. Fiction and nonfiction. A lot of novels. Some philosophy. Psychology books. (She was a therapist.) She told my mom, Tell your writer son to come on down and take what he wants. And I did.
So basically I/we have a mobile library. No registration necessary: We just grab n read. The other day I randomly chose a book and read it. It was Milan Kundera’s ‘Slowness.’ (1995.) Brilliant. A stylist like no other. This lead me to ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being.’ (Still reading it.) Hemingway wrote ‘A Moveable Feast’ about his years in Paris as a young ex-pat writer in the twenties. Well, I have ‘A Moveable Library.’
Anyway the moving feels good and right. The switching of rooms feels the same. This is a continuation of the theme of my life the past few years: Change; letting go; acceptance; movement. Physical movement. But also spiritual movement. Growth. Painful at times. But necessary.
A new chapter. A new path. A fresh direction.
You are right. Nothing better than having a writing space, more than a place. I love how you've come upon your books, the gifts that keep giving. And A Moveable Feast. USed to read that at least once a year. I am a few years behind and will have to search my shelves. Here's to settling in!