Monday, September 29, 2014

I never regret buying a book.

A couple weeks ago I was sitting in my front yard. I had holes in my pants, I was wearing a sweatshirt I have owned since high school, and the sole of my right shoe was flapping in the breeze. But I had a brand new book in my hands.

I won’t go on a long tirade about being young and poor. Most anyone reading this will at one point or another be able to relate to the desperation of living in constant fight or flight mode because of money.

After many years of hard work and settling for anything that would meet our immediate needs, my husband and I have reached the point where we are taking the next step. To better things and actual progress with our lives.

As I pack up my library (weeding as necessary, I’m at three boxes, oh my!) I am realizing how valuable the books I have acquired during this time has been.

When I started this blog, it was during a time when I would frequently be left with less than a dollar in my bank account before my next check. My husband and I had five jobs between the two of us. But I still gave myself a book allowance.

I did this because a couple years ago I was agonizing over $12.95 for a book I really wanted. I thought I should save the money, but as time passed the longing became so bad I just said fuck it. What will $12.95 really do for me at the end of the year anyway? So I bought the book. And I remember everything about it being amazing. It was worth going to work all week, getting yelled at by mean customers and doing all the heavy lifting of the job, so on my afternoon off I could sit on the front porch and read that book. So on my fifteen minute breaks I could make a little progress in my research, for both my future blogging/writing but also in my personal relationships and understanding of the world around me.

That book was worth much more to me than the $12.95.

After that, I gave myself a book allowance. Many months, however, I had to forgo the book allowance, or wait a few months if I wanted to buy a more expensive book. But it was one of the few things I told myself not to feel guilty about spending money on.

Regardless of the allowance (which started at $15 a month) I relied on thrift stores, library book sales, discarded library books, and yard sales to fulfill my need for books. (I still keep a meticulous wish list that I review often just in case a book I want happens to cross my path for a dollar.) There were many times I took boxes of books people were going to throw away just in case there would be a title I wanted (the rest I donated.) And I will admit that on more than one occasion, I have officially dumpster dove for books.

The problem, however, is that not many people in my small town were giving away sexuality books, much less recently published academic books on kink, porn, or polyamory. So I relied on my book allowance to keep my research afloat.

Flash forward a few years and a lot has changed. I have secured a stable full-time job, paid off my medical debt, and we have managed to put enough into savings to give us some options. And those years of living word by word, page by page, book by book have added up to years of experience and an arsenal of knowledge.

Ever since I remember, books have been an important part of my life. But they have been crucial to my journey of body acceptance and sexuality. Certainly the wealth of kick-ass sex bloggers and sex-positive podcasts have been invaluable in this journey. But books provided the unique space to learn, question, and grow. Books had the conversations with me that so few people in my life were willing to have.

Books have allowed me to approach others. Since I’ve been carrying around relationship and sex books, more people have opened up, asked questions, or confessed secrets they’ve been holding onto for years. I have bonded with others over books. They give us that safe place made of pulp and ink where it’s ok to explore and discuss.

For the longest time I could only see as far as the present moment and the current book in my hand. Now I can see beyond the present moment to plans and life. And the books I’m taking with me have only served to broaden that horizon.

I feel so fortunate that in a time I was barely grasping security I still had enough resources to invest in books. That I built my life $12.95 at a time. That I chose to make learning, curiosity, and reading a priority.

I am certainly not out of the woods quite yet. We still have a lot to do before we have a solid footing on the next stage this life is offering us. But I will continue to be grateful for my book allowance, and I have learned that, no matter what happens, I will never regret buying a book. 

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