They say that women fall in love with a man only once they get to know him. I’ve thought long and hard and can’t seem to remember a time I fell in love like that.
I choose my men rather like I choose my books. I want the cover to attract me and call out to me, look attractive. I need to feel drawn to it, regardless of what type of book it is. I’m impulsive. It’s usually a split second decision for me. But I’m also shallow, and I wouldn’t be caught dead with a book with an ugly cover. I never look beyond the cover the first time.
Once I’m alone with the book, I can’t wait to discover it, page by page. As I read, I’m aching to run my hands over the spine, making sure it’s there.
If the book doesn’t interest me, or if I find flaws in the plot, the book makes its way into a carton in the loft where I ignore it for a while. The book begs for mercy and gathers dust until I finally throw it away.
Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I find a book that has me hooked for months on end. But then once I’ve read it all, I can’t stand to look at it again.
But finding Mister was like finding an old, tattered book peeking from the corner of a rickety bookshelf inside a bookstore that you just happened to step into because you wanted cover from the rain. The cover was beautiful but covered in dust and neglect. The words were few but resolute. The smell was different; earthy. One look at the old thing and I knew it had seen better days. It had had many lovers before but they obviously didn’t care enough, and the poor thing needed a real home. It deserved better. It filled me with pity and I decided to do something about it.
I cleaned him up, dressed his wounds. I unfolded the dog ears that people had left behind. I smoothened the creases. I erased the remarks people had left in the margins; I could see they hadn’t really read him. No wonder they understood nothing. As I sewed his pages back together I could feel the love radiating from it. And just it hit me.
I read him like I would read a book. With doubt at first, but then feeling drawn to every word he said. I was intrigued at the amazing things he helped me discover about myself and how I felt about the world.
And now I’m carrying it everywhere I go because I’m afraid I will wither away without it. It’s the only book that I ever see myself reading.
Because my old book loves me back like no other will.