Monday, February 21, 2011

The Books Are All Right

My world came tumbling down last night - my world of books. A six-foot tall bookcase with five shelves, holding 100 or more of my must-have, meticulously maintained books, leaned just a little too far to the left.  It had been wavering lately, as I piled book upon book onto its strained, sagging shelves. I had steadied it between the side of an open door on one side and a plastic water bottle wedged between the bookcase and a dresser on the other side of it. And as long as nobody closed that door, the bookcase stayed more less upright. And I piled on more books.

Last night, my husband was walking through that particular room and accidentally brushed up against it. The water bottle fell to the ground and then it happened. From the next room I heard a terrible crash as the bookcase fell, pushing the dresser, which was thankfully on wheels, a foot or two to the left, and the TV cart next to it, also on wheels, to the far left of the room. As the bookcase broke to pieces, and shelf after shelf fell to the ground, so went piles and piles and piles of books.

My husband was fine, the dresser was fine and the TV cart and TV were fine. When I ran into the room, knowing what had just happened, I saw them at my feet. There were my babies, all askew in one gigantic pile. I thought of the broken spines, the torn dust jackets and general damage to the pages of the once-pristine books that I was sure to find.

The bookcase was destroyed. But as I stacked up book after book, I found nary a broken spine, torn dust jacket or even bent pages. It was as if some invisible force had cushioned the fall of every single book. Even the box of my most precious books that I stored on top of the top shelf landed upright, flat on the floor and unopened. My husband’s life would be spared.

Something had been preventing the demise of that bookcase. It was going to go, it was just a matter of when. Less than a week ago I cleared a pile of change off one of the shelves and rolled it up to cash in at the bank. If that change had still been on the shelf last night, more than $80 worth of coins would have flown everywhere, causing a bigger mess than all the books that had actually cascaded from the shelves.

So now I have to get the broken pieces of the bookcase out of the room, and the house, and hope that the piles of books now littering the floor of my husband’s office will fit into two smaller, sturdier bookcases I have. Where to fit two bookcases instead of one is a puzzle I have yet to solve. And I’m pretty sure a third will need to be called into action. At least everyone is okay.

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