This book is simple. It arrived at my house today. The package that contained it was sent to me several months ago and I thought it might’ve gotten lost in the mail, but apparently it just took the post office 4.5 months to figure out I’d moved.
It’s a little wooden book that my parents gave me when I was young. I don’t remember being given it. I just remember thinking of it throughout my childhood as a gift from “my parents”, as a unit. So, I must have been very young.
Looking at it now, I wonder why they picked it out. Was it a cute whim grabbed at some giftshop or garage sale? Could they tell, even as a child, that I would need extra reassurance? Did they simply realize that most children (and humans of all ages) sometimes need a pocket-sized reminder that they are loved even when they feel the most unlovable?
A few years back, I gave the book to a person I was in love with and who was angry a lot of the time. The place for that story isn’t here. He was the kind of person who doesn’t believe in magic but does a whole lot of it anyway, without realizing. One day, after we hadn’t talked for a long time, he offered to send it back and I said yes.
I don’t know what it means that it showed up at my house today. (Other than that the US Postal Service is…slower than e-mail.) I do know that the world we know when we’re children shapes the sense we make our whole lives. I got a lot of sad things imprinted on me when I was small — especially after my parents stopped being a unit. But I also got this definition of love: That loving someone means loving their feelings. All the feelings. My life might be easier if I didn’t believe that, but I don’t think it would be better.
This simple, square, wooden artifact tied together with red string has so much personal provenance. When I first got it back, I thought about passing the book on to someone else, another child or adult in my life who might benefit from it. I decided to hold onto it myself. I have a lot of feelings, too, and I haven’t outgrown the need to be reminded that they’re part of what makes me lovable. But I wanted for people I love to have the same reminder. And for people I don’t know to be able to remind each other. So, I put it on the Internet.