For as long as I can remember, my one true dream has been to have a house with a library. Or at the very least a book shelf that spans an entire wall from floor to ceiling.
I don’t know if it is because I have always loved books and reading, and from a young age prided myself on my hefty collection of books. But somewhere along the line my books and the idea of that wall-length book shelf became a symbol of ‘home’.
Over the past 10 years I have lived in nine cities. None of them have been ‘home’. But with each city my book collection continued to grow. If you’ve ever footed the bill for freighting kilos upon kilos of books across Australia, you’d understand how much I loved my books.
Last month I moved to New Zealand. The practicality of having more books than any thing else – clothes, furniture, and gadgets combined – finally came to a head and in order to condense my life back down in to a 25 kilogram suitcase, I gave nearly all my books away.
As silly as it sounds, it honestly broke my heart.
It is ridiculous, I know. They are books. You can buy more. This is one of the most ‘First World’ problems you could ever encounter. It wasn’t until I was watching a friend from my book club pick out the ones she wanted (whilst physically restraining myself from snatching them back out of her hands) that I realised, in giving away the books I was letting go of the book shelf dream.
The book shelf was my ‘happily ever after’, just dressed up differently. It was the symbol of ‘home’. Of having a house and a family, a place to belong, being loved unconditionally. In letting that go and moving to another country, maybe I was symbolically letting go of that exact ‘happily ever after’.
Maybe a wall-length book shelf isn’t in my cards. Maybe I’ll never have that traditional feeling of being ‘home’.
Letting go of my books bought a simultaneous sense of freedom and excitement for all the adventures and new beginnings that lay ahead, mixed with a little sadness and loss that seeps in every now and then.
I don’t know where I’ll go after New Zealand, or even how long I’ll stay. Maybe I’ll find a home. I guess the beauty of the moment, and the journey, is you never really know what’s around the corner.