In my last divorce, I lost custody of all my books.
I didn't mean to, and I wouldn't have left them voluntarily. But I moved out in quite a hurry, and I moved into a little bitty duplex. I didn't have room for the books, much less the bookcase they were shelved on.
My father made the bookcase for me, and it fit the house we lived in perfectly. It was probably 15 or 16 feet long and 8 feet high. And I had it crammed full of books. Arranged alphabetically by author's last name, of course.
After our sudden separation, when my ex was convinced he could win me back, he told me not to worry about the books. He said they weren't bothering anything and I could leave them there as long as I wanted. He really, really thought I would be coming back to them. I mean him.
On the day our divorce was final, however, he changed his tune. It may have been because he was embarrassed that he missed the hearing because he didn't show up on time. It may have been because that's the first time he realized I wasn't, indeed, coming back to him.
But he came by the duplex where I was living to tell me that I couldn't keep the life insurance policy I had on him, according to his lawyer. (I responded initially by saying she needed to stick to law and leave life insurance to those who knew how it worked. When he kept insisting, I finally told him if I didn't get one penny, it would be benefit enough if he just WOULD die. I'm still paying faithfully on that policy.) I knew he wanted to pick a fight, but I couldn't NOT mention my books again. I was terrified that he would burn them.
"Read your divorce agreement," he said. "Property has been divided."
I grieved over the loss of those books. Losing my books was much more devastating than the death of the marriage. For months I grieved. Even after Hubby and I married (which I'm guessing didn't help matters either), I plotted and schemed for ways to get those books back. I thought about appealing to the girl he took up with next. Ironically, she and I had been best friends in the sixth grade. (I told you it's a small town.) I even considered offering to buy the books. That already belonged to me. I was that desperate.
I won't go into all the details, but eventually he brought a couple boxes of books and gave them to Hubby and me when we saw him out somewhere. It wasn't nearly everything, of course, but they did include The Complete Works of Shakespeare, which my grandmother had given to me upon my high school graduation, and my wedding pictures. I didn't want the wedding pictures, but I figured Sweet Girl might want them some day.
Hubby and Katydid and Nurse Jane all assured me that one day I would get over the loss of my precious books. I thought they were crazy.
Over the years Hubby and I have been married, I have accumulated a new collection of books. Our house has two built-in bookcases approximately the same size as the bookcase I left behind, and there is no more room on the shelves.
Well, there wasn't until today.
Once I get started, I'm ruthless.
One of the neighborhood charities comes around about once a month. They specifically ask for clothing, blankets, small appliances, and books.
I spent today boxing up most of our books for donation, and I didn't feel a twinge of regret. Some of them are excellent books, but the likelihood that I'll ever read them again is almost nonexistent.
I kept a few books, including an academic volume which includes a chapter I wrote myself and always forget about including on my resume, a book of poetry that Hubby gave me for Valentine's Day one year and wrote a sweet message in the front of, and of course the Shakespeare.
What I can't understand is why I kept the cookbooks. Those should have been the first to go.