Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Missing the Search

I am on the hunt for an old edition of the book MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING by Julia Child. A new edition was released in 2001 for the 40th anniversary of the book, and that one is readily available in most any bookstore. But I want an original, or as close to an original as I can find. One that has a nicely worn dust cover. One that has been thumbed through and propped up and perhaps even spilled on a bit. One that has more history then those sitting on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.

I am sad about how simple this hunt could be. I did a quick search on eBay for the book and pulled up no less then 30 of them for sale. I could buy one for $5 plus shipping and handling and be done with it as simply as that. I don't like that. I want to have to poke my head in every used book store I pass for the next 2 years until finally, on some rainy day on a trip to Seattle I will pull the perfect copy from a low shelf in a tiny, dark store that smells of mildew and pipe smoke. I want my heart to thud out of my chest when I see it. I want the owner of the store to think I am strange as I gasp with glee. I DON'T want the book to arrive via priority mail from some stranger in Nevada who I just happened to give my bid to.

We've got it too easy these days, in many respects. Thanks to credit cards and the internet, we no longer have to pine for things nearly as much as we used to, and that's too bad. When I was little, my dad made me a chart on a piece of cardboard that had spots for 100 pennies. I would dump my piggy bank out and line up the pennies on the chart and when I had a dollar I'd separate it from the rest of my money. I saved up enough to buy a cabbage patch doll that way, and I was unbelievably proud of myself. How are we to fully respect and appreciate our belongings when they are the result of a few moments of thought rather then months or even years of anticipation and longing? It takes the romance out of it, and thus takes much of the pure joy out of it as well.

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