Monday, August 8, 2011

Reunited with Love at First Sight

It's a wonder to think about the circumstances behind how a book enters your life and seemingly embeds itself in the fabric of your psyche. It's one thing to marvel at how a story enclosed within a book can resonates with you on a deep meaningful level, but it's another thing entirely to ponder how a book even begins to approach you, and I think that's what it does. It woos you.

Back in the late late 90s through the early 2000s I was just in the midst of puberty and at that time still deeply engrossed in novels of the fantasy genre. Now, I can't say exactly when it was that I picked up this book, but it must've been after 1996 because that's when it was first copyrighted, not to mention it was in mass market paperback by the time it got to me. Maybe it was 99? It was probably before we moved too so before 2001. After all, I did find the book at George Mason Regional Public Library, the library closest to the condo we lived in before we moved up to a house in the deep suburbs.

Back in the day George Mason was probably the largest library in Fairfax County, that is, after the renovation, which started in 97. This may have happened in the midst of the renovation, but I can't be sure. Anyway, I think it has one of the larger science fiction (/fantasy) collections, and at the time the sci-fi books were in the very back, cozily tucked in the very last shelves. You had to walk passed many a book filled shelf to get there. Ironically it was like walking through a forest, and for a timid pubescent like myself the seclusion of the depths of a library was a haven.

So there I was skimming the books on the shelves, and at the time I was only interested in the newer books. The shiny ones that looked like not many people had read. Why that is I'm not sure, but that's the way it was. And so these books caught my eye - the Blending series by Sharon Green. I can still remember where they were. They were on the bottom shelf. I had to crouch down to reach them. They were new and shiny, and unlike most of the books on the shelf had a spine of neutral coloring as opposed to the ubiquitous black.

So I pulled out the first book and that's when I knew I'd be reading it. The cover illustrations were unlike any that I'd ever seen before. (The illustrations are done by a Mr. Thomas Canty who is famous in the publishing world, but that I hadn't known at the time.) Each cover had a portrait of a different character, and they were exquisite. So very stylized, lovely and romantic. So I took them home, and I started to read them. There were some interesting concepts and ideas, but the writing must've been only so-so because I vaguely remember giving up on the series and not reading them to the end. Ten-ish years later it became obvious that those covers had left more of an impression on me than the story contained there within.

I guess it was only after graduating college and starting to work that I reminisced fondly of my adolescence. I guess you just need time between the then and the now to really be able to distill the good from the bad and look back on your experiences fondly in retrospect. Anyway, I started to reflect back on my experiences and wonder what was what.

In my memories those books were there, but I had no memory of the author's name nor did I have a clear understanding of the story. All I remembered was finding those books and their covers. Of course I tried a Google search with the limited understanding of the story I had, but it was futile. With no other leads to follow I made my way back to George Mason.

It wasn't like I hadn't been to George Mason in the ten-ish years since I first found those books, but this time it was different. I headed to the back corner following the memories of my youth, but they of course had since moved the sci-fi books, which I would've already known had I been thinking instead of remembering. When I did get to the shelves of sci-fi books, the only option I had was to peruse the rows of books until I found them. I was sure that if they were there I would find them.

And find them I did - creme spines in a sea of black. In the ten-ish years since, their spines had been heavily creased and their pages worn. The luster of their covers had disappeared. They weren't the new shiny books they had once been, but the portraits on the covers were still there. At this age, since the development and  maturation of my own artistic abilities, I am able to appreciate those portraits even more.

I am reading them again, and as I unravel the story bit by bit I begin to remember what it was like to happen upon the story for the first time. I also begin to see why it was I had given up on this story. Even after all those years some things don't change.

No comments: