When I was moving from Juneau, Alaska, last month, the Salvation Army wouldn’t take my books. I walked the mile from my house with at least 50 books in my backpack—good ones, too. A few samplings of fiction—Carl Hiasson and John Girsham. And the popular Barack Obama book and Colin Powell’s biography. And others, too, that I have lovingly read over the years.
But as I start talking to the guy at the counter, he shakes his head, explaining to me that he’s received lots of books lately. But, no! I look at him and want to explain that, certainly, I’m sure he has received lots of books, but these books, sir; these books will make you money. Can’t you see it in my overly-eager face?
My earnestness does not faze him and I walk out, dejected, because I know what I have to do. I have to throw these books away because this is my last day in Juneau and I have no more space left in our shipments. I have to put all of these books in a garbage can. In this garbage can, here, by the bus stop. And just in case a police officer drive by thinking I am “dumping” in front of the “no dumping” sign, I move across the street and dump the second half in a bigger bin.
It is over-dramatically heart-breaking, really. I feel sick to my stomach. Literally. I call my husband and tell him that I know I’m going to hell.
Five years on artificial birth control, seven years of sporadic Mass attendance, praying for snow during our wedding Mass. No, it’s not these things. No, it’s throwing out the books that convinces me I’m bound for a torturous afterlife. I cross the street slowly, telling myself not to enjoy the lightened load I am now carrying.
My husband simply says, Well, I’m on your side. If you’re going to hell, I’m coming with you.
Sometimes I just love him and his a-religiousness.