Assorted tales of an information hoarder.
Yesterday my wife decided there were too many books in the house. Up until then, my Sunday was simply perfect: no urgent repairs to do in the house, a warm cup of coffee on the table, food in my mouth – a slice of bread with a soft-boiled egg nice and runny. She couldn’t have picked a better moment. I didn’t choke this time, I just chewed away slowly to gather my thoughts on my favorite information delivery system.
“I felt calm in knowing it would be there, not in the cloud or available at the click of a button, but not lost either.”
‘Too many? You can never have enough books.’
‘But they don’t fit.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Just look at them.’
I did what she asked, but I didn’t see any problem. We had stuffed each of the little squares of our Ikea construction with cookbooks, dictionaries, and novels, and topped it off with stacks of magazines and notebooks, sure. But why not? At least we eliminated the excess space. And yes, the top of our bookcase no longer displayed our family pictures, but how often do you really look at them? I had to put the novels on my reading list somewhere I could reach them. I also noticed that our elephant lamp in Tiffany style had gotten lost again behind the stacks of short story collections, but who cares? Its light was barely visible anyway. And each time we rediscovered it, we saw it as if we just bought it, to commemorate our five-year anniversary. The great thing about our stuffed bookcase was the wonderful surprises it harbored.
‘Don’t tell me it’s about the elephant,’ I said.
My wife shook her head, just like she had done a year ago when she uttered the same words. First, she walked over to the table next to the bookcase and started moving its stacks of books to the floor. Next, she discovered a framed photograph of herself as a cute little baby. Then she found a toy van our son had destroyed while playing and said she would glue it back together. As she plugged in the elephant, she noticed its bulb was broken. She continued clearing the surface until she had finished.
‘Do you see it?’
I still hadn’t finished my breakfast, but I had to admit she was onto something. The side table seemed lighter somehow. Even without the light of the elephant. The corner, the whole wall seemed roomier. And we hadn’t even touched the bookcase itself.
When I finally finished my meal, she had begun clearing the top of our bookcase. I found some spare cardboard boxes in the basement and filled them with the books we decided weren’t urgently needed. I didn’t follow any method, I just put them away, closed the boxes and carried them happily upstairs. The attic seemed eager to store this new batch of information.
As I closed the trapdoor, I felt calm in knowing it would be there, not in the cloud or available at the click of a button, but not lost either. Just waiting, full of surprises. More surprises, the longer I waited. And when I came downstairs the bookcase seemed orderly again. The little elephant shone silently. My wife was happy. And I opened the website of some delivery service to see when my new book was to arrive.
- Author: Stefan van Dierendonck