I recently started a new job, leaving behind a complicated workplace where I’d spent a little over a year and come to bond very deeply with my fellow inmates. Saying goodbye — even knowing full well I’ll see everyone again the very next time happy hour is convened — was unexpectedly painful. Why, I wondered, as a full-blown adult who has had my share of long-term employment, did this particular separation hit so hard?
The answer came to me as I lay in bed reading a few nights after my farewell party, a haze of melancholy still hanging over me. That night, I turned the pages of a novel I’d been savoring, slowing my usual pace to enjoy the beautiful flow of language. Then, unexpectedly, I reached the end. It was one of those paperbacks with the sneaky reader’s guide housed at the back. I wasn’t anticipating the final page and the story’s close left me feeling adrift, unwilling to let go.
I closed the pages, turned the book over in my hands. I re-read the jacket copy and studied the cover art. I flipped back to the beginning and scanned over the opening scenes. I didn’t want it to end, didn’t want to step out of the world the story had crafted and invited me to be a part of. All that was left now was to recall favorite passages and characters and images the author had so brilliantly crafted with words.
It felt so familiar. Of course, because I have gone through the same emotions so many times, with so many beloved books. But the echo back to my recent departure was a new wrinkle. I was ready to leave the job, definitely. I wasn’t so ready to leave the story — the stressful, anxious, darkly hilarious, and unpredictably warm-hearted world I had been invited to be a part of.
As I continued to study the book, admiring its weight and feel, I sent up a little prayer of thanks. For friendship, for beauty, for connection, for art. Because I’ll always have that cherished volume to visit on my bookshelf, and remember the emotions it drew from me. Just as I’ll always have that irreplaceable moment of belonging to visit in my memory and continue to enjoy, even if from a certain distance, as those beloved characters continue their tale without me.
This is an original JerseyMomsBlog post. Deanna Q is a freelance writer and dedicated admirer of the published word. Though she is happy to read non-fiction (or embarrassing mommy porn) in e-book format, she finds no pleasure at all in the cold remove of a novel pressed flat between sheets of aluminosilicate glass.