Carry That Weight
Genius, they call it.
And I cannot disagree.
This little gadget I can carry in my purse or tuck under my pillow or in my desk drawer so I can sneak a few paragraphs when I am supposed to be on a conference call….
Oh, I resisted for a long time.
I like books. I like turning pages and underlining and writing comments in the margin. I like seeing the bookmark work its way down chunks of book.
I like the smell of cheap thin old paper.
I like bookcases.
I can have thousands of books on my little 5 x 8, 7-ounce reader, but those books won’t be able to decorate my bookcase anymore.
But I can carry more books than I was ever able to carry.
When I started high school, the city had a bit of a capacity problem. The temporary solution was to have the freshman start later in the morning, and stay later in the afternoon. I don’t know why this was supposed to work. In the middle of the day all the students were there. And there were no classes being held in the bathroom. We fit somehow.
But what we didn’t have enough of was lockers. So Freshman didn’t get them. We carried our books and coats from class to class.
And to and from school. Every day. All the books.
I lived exactly 1 mile from the school. And I added one-tenth of a mile in order to meet my friends. Even if it was freezing I wouldn’t think of cutting my walk by that tenth and walking alone.
With all my books: English, History, French, Math, Science – and of course my notebooks – one for each subject. If I didn’t have homework I had to carry my books anyway. Because I had no locker.
I’d stack them with a large notebook on the bottom and a double stack on the top. I weighed less than 100 pounds. I was carrying one-fifth of my body weight (okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight) 2.2 miles a day.
Heaven forbid that I had to sneeze.
If it rained, I got drenched. I could not carry an umbrella too. But my books did not get wet. They got a plastic bag. I got a wet head.
One morning, while walking by St. Anthony’s Church, a pigeon crapped on my head.
But I didn’t drop the books.
One of my classmates never had any books on our trek to school.
“I do my homework in study hall,” she said.
“But where do you keep the books without a locker?” I asked.
And one day she showed me. She had found an unlocked closet behind the stage in the auditorium.
“What if someone takes them?” I asked.
“Textbooks????” She replied.
But I just couldn’t leave my books. I covered them with brown paper and I wrapped them in plastic, and I hugged them to me for 2.2 miles a day.
It was good for me. Carrying those books probably gave me the strength to hold plank position in yoga today.
Now I have my teeny lightweight device.
It’s still good exercise. My swiping finger is getting a workout.