My husband knows that I have one major love language. Okay, two, but coffee doesn’t show up on the lists. I wish it was “quality time” or “acts of service” because those sound noble and selfless. But no, it cannot be denied – if you want to say “I love you” to me, the best way to do it is with something shiny. Or pretty. Or, both. And my husband gets this. Receiving gifts is not his love language, at all, but in the twelve years of our marriage, he has been faithful to come home with flowers, lattes, and resale store treasures like wrought iron candle sticks and my new favorite – a funky robin egg blue sugar bowl.
But one thing that I love over almost all other earthly treasures, is the one thing he has trouble choosing for me and that is books. Novels, to be exact. I slurp down fiction like it’s my job. And Mr. Incredible, for all his love and understanding, does not get it. He’s forever trying to get me to read non-fiction and become more knowledgeable about our planet and human condition and I am forever ignoring him while I cry over Dumbledore or Beth or Matthew dying (who can guess the second two references?).
Earlier this fall, Mr. Incredible came home with a gleeful smile and an Amazon box. And inside was my new prreeccciousss… a Kindle! Oh joy! And I knew just what I wanted to do with it.
Each time we went to Afghanistan I took a trunk full of books. Books are hard to find and most ex-pat workers carefully cultivate their libraries and books are passed around and around. I remember when “The Deathly Hallows” came to Kabul and I got my hands on a copy. We only had electricity every third night for a few hours and I had read through the day and into the night. I was almost done with the book with the electricity went out. I finished that book hunched over a sputtering candle, surrounded by pitch black. Creepy for sure.
Anyways – I always knew in the back of my mind that we wouldn’t bring our books back with us if and when we returned to America. I just never imagined I’d be parted from them so soon and for so long. When Mr. Incredible went back to Afghanistan to pack up our belongings he asked me what I wanted to do with my books. It was so hard, but I told him to leave them there for other families.
But now, I have a Kindle and then I had a birthday and then Christmas came and family gifted me with many an Amazon gift card for the express purpose of replacing some of those beloved books left in Kabul. For three years I’d been going over in my mind a list of books I missed having around and it was to one particular author I ran home to.
There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that then no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars. Like I was that good.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees
Do you have an author or a book that feels so comfortable, so welcoming and friendly? For me, that author is Barbara Kingslover. “The Bean Trees” “The Poisonwood Bible” “Prodigal Summer” “Animal Dreams” “Small Wonders” and “High Tide in Tuscan” – these are old friends. The poetry, the stories, the essays, I love them all. I read “Animal Dreams”, one of her earliest novels, the week I had a D n C for my second miscarriage. I was utterly heartbroken and completely surprised to find her writing about my experience in this lovely book. I felt understood and less alone. And that is quite a thing to say about a novel.
A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t. Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had.
Mr. Incredible hit the jack pot with this gift for sure. I will be feeling very loved for a long time to come. Just as long as he keeps his space and submarine books far, far away, from the prreecciousss.
What books do you run home to?