Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Throwback Book

Some time ago I mentioned reading throwback books to Julian and how it's the #1 best way for me to reconnect with my childhood. I've found a few treasures from my parents' house and one of them was my beloved Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards.

You know what is so weird? When you come in contact with the source of all these associations to things. Like, all through your life there are strange sensations tied to a thing, a word, whatever. The things we encounter have a root. And you may even be cognizant of it and say, that word reminds me of _____.  Or, it reminds me of something, but i don't know what. And even if it's on a subconscious level, the feeling is still there. Those vague associations we make day after day after day. And then one day you dig up an old book you read as an impressionable youngster, and realize you've come to the source, the original, of those associations. This book was that for me. Things like having a secret place all to yourself, having some strange desire to grow a garden (even though I am terrible at gardening and am still reluctant to give it a go). The word "marigold" came from that book. And not like I'm thinking of or hearing that word on a daily basis in my life but when i do, traces of those associations are there, that tie me back to this book. I feel like i've struck gold, knowing with a fair amount of certainty, that i've come to the original source of the word, when I first learned it. It's kind of miraculous, actually, and being back to where I grew up after having been away, it's happening all over the place.

Mandy, as you may know, lives in an orphanage and yearns for something of her own. She's a dark-haired emotional girl and seems to always be looking for something. She scales the back wall and discovers an abandoned cottage that she fixes up and makes hers.  It doesn’t totally satiate her desire for more in life though and in the end she gets sick there, in the cottage, and is rescued by the owner of the estate, a kindly man and family who live nearby. They take her in while she recovers for weeks, and in the end they  (SPOILER ALERT) adopt her. When Mandy can’t believe how this wonderful thing has happened to her, Bill, the father says to her, 

“You are a very special little girl.  And I think you’re strong and not afraid to go looking for your life.”*  

 And these are the words that jolted me when I was reading it to Julian. Not only had I been feeling this close connection to Mandy all along, because I think she really made an impression on me when I read it as a 10-year-old and maybe adopted or perhaps recognized some of her qualities, but those are the words that I need to adopt for myself right now.  I need to go looking for my life, and I want to be unafraid doing it.   This is the feeling I think i've had for all of my life, but there is a difference between feeling something and doing it. So that is my plan.

*I'm reeeeally, really sorry for enlarging that quote. I laugh when i read people's blogs who do this, but usually it's their own words they make huge because they just know they'll be as earth-shattering for you as their own words were for them. But since they're not my words, i'm telling myself it's ok. Plus, look how huge that asterisk is.


Ashley said...

It's worth it for the asterisk! You're really making me want to read that book again, so job well done. However, while I totally know what you're talking about and have experienced this same kind of magical reconnection when I go back to things/books/words of yore, I feel a sense of loss at the same time, like I will never be able to experience that book for the first time again. And it never feels like it did when I was young. It's kind of a sad but accepted part of growing up, I guess. (Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. I was just going for Pensive Penny.)

)en said...

I don't know how I fail to respond to these comments. Quality thoughts, Ash. Really love Pensive Penny. And it's true, especially with books. There really is only one first round. That's why I want to be a traveling Harry Potter reader and find people who've never read it so i can be there for their first HP experience.