One Lonely Planet, one Rough Guide. I was vacuuming at Jeremy's when I spotted these (I'd hate for anyone to think that I poked around in their things while house sitting - I don't. Except for bookshelves). Ah, I thought when I spotted these, just what I need. I have been looking in every charity shop I pass for guidebooks.
Hey, that's my name in the front, and it's in my own handwriting. Those are my highlights and notes scribbled in margins. It takes me a moment to register - these are mine, from when I was here in 2001-2. No wonder I fell upon them so eagerly. Now I dig into memory and remember that Jeremy had lent me stuff when I moved in to Miss Pope's - a portable TV, a couple of Pat's watercolour paintings. I must have included these books when I was returning what had been borrowed.
Packing up - ah, I do it all the time. It is almost exactly two years since I left Rotorua with no more than a suitcase. Then too I gave away what could be palmed off and took loads to local charity shops. I do have some things in storage on the Gold Coast (thanks Neil and Di). Of what I packed into that suitcase, very little is still with me now. Phone, laptop, toilet bag, a couple of merinos, a pair of gloves - that's about it. Now here are these books, artifacts from a life even more deeply rooted in the past. Strangely affirming. Traces of continuity in a peripatetic life. I live happily in the short term, but it is comforting and reassuring to have evidence of coherence, of some greater design running through the years and developing over time to shape the person I am today.
And now I'm picking up where I left off 15 years ago, doing things I wanted to do then but didn't get around to. The Leighton House Museum, Brixton markets, Chelsea Physic Garden, Tate Britain, Dulwich Picture Gallery. It is enormously satisfying for all sorts of reasons. The guidebooks might be dated, but they are still useful and I'm a bit thrilled that they have turned up in my life again and that I have this opportunity to fulfil those older wishes.