I’ve got a few books I really like. A few I’ve been reading and rereading for some fifteen years now. Read them maybe five, eight, ten times. They’ve become as familiar as old friends, from their heft to their smell, from the yellowed hue of their pages to the creases down their worn spines. Characters like Druss the Legend, or Paksenarrion, or Bilbo. Same with certain songs, certain artists. Fifteen years or so of familiarity. I pick up the book, or hear the song, and they’re like old friends, comfortable, comforting, solid and dependable.
And I wonder. How does somebody in their 80’s feel about books and songs they’ve been listening to their whole lives? I hear ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and I think of that club on Pleasure Island, dancing with Kim back in… what, 1999, laughing and having a great time. Already the memory is faint, but each time I hear the song it comes back to me, no matter how many months or years may have gone since I’ve thought of her. What will come to me sixty years from now? What other connotations may songs acquire, how much more like friends might certain books become?
I gaze at people near the end of their lives, in their twilight, and wander at the patina of memories that must lie over old songs, old books, old things that have been steady friends throughout the course of their lives. Touchstones, points of reference, steady and present when others have passed and gone.
It’s a comfort, I suppose. Unlooked for in my youth, but bound to grow as the years pass me by.