352: “Maybe It’s Down This Street” (Ross Gay)

                “For instance: I love not getting the groceries in from the car in one trip. Or better yet, I love walking around a city, ostensibly trying to get somewhere, perhaps without all the time in the world, perhaps with, and despite the omniscient machine in my pocket frying my sperm, vibrating to remind me of said frying— just wandering. Maybe it’s down this street. Maybe it’s down this one. Maybe you’re with a friend, and maybe the inefficient will make you closer.”
                -Ross Gay, “Inefficiency,” The Book of Delights

                I do this thing where I ruin books. Because the thing is, books have page numbers. They have these little squiggles in the corner that tell me I’m on page 17 (there are 372 in the book), I’m on page 21 (there are still 372 in the book), and when I’ve “had a lot of reading” in my graduate program, or when I’m feeling invested in accomplishing something and really I should be past page 21 by now, I look at the page numbers and I ruin the book. I feel slow. Time feels sluggish, and too fast, and it slips by without me managing much. I lose track of what’s happening in this paragraph and have to start again, and try to push myself to be faster. And reading doesn’t feel like anything I’ve ever liked.And then this morning.
                And then M. A. Carrick’s The Mask of Mirrors, and my couch, and my blanket, and this morning. I ruined it for the first few pages. Ruined it a little bit more. Then the book was like walking around a city, a new city where I didn’t know anyone, but I was meeting friends. Each street led to another street, another bridge over the river, and all of a sudden I care about these people. I like the masks they’re wearing. All of a sudden I feel the current that runs through the river, all of a sudden nothing’s sudden, nothing’s sodden with my determination to get through this. Reading’s a delight. The blanket’s a delight. Remembering Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights is a delight. Writing to you, rambling about this, it’s a delight, and it’s a bit messy, and next time I’m not going to get the groceries from the car in one trip.

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