Preparing to move back to Istanbul, we've been going through all the junk that we've kept in storage the past 5 years. This involves asking repeatedly, "Why did we save this?" when running across old cassette tapes, coffee mugs, and contact lens cases. Probably, we saved them because we were too lazy/disorganized to throw them away 5 years ago.
Anyway, this exercise offers the opportunity to go through boxes of books that I've been wishing I had access to those 5 years. Before we put them in storage initially, I gave a lot of books away (for better or worse), and I'm sure to give a few more away now before we pack the rest into sturdier boxes and have them shipped to Istanbul. In a couple of months, I hope to be placing them on shelves in our new home.
In the meantime, here's something I dug out, from Denis Johnson's Car Crash While Hitchhiking:
I was standing out here in the night, with the baby, for some reason, in my arms. It must have still been raining, but I remember nothing about the weather. We'd collided with another car on what I now perceived was a two-lane bridge. The water beneath us was invisible in the dark.
Moving toward the other car I began to hear rasping, metallic snores. Somebody was flung halfway out the passenger door, which was open, in the posture of one hanging from a trapeze by his ankles. The car had been broadsided, smashed so flat that there was no room inside even for this person's legs, to say nothing of a driver or any other passengers. I just walked right on past.
Headlights were coming from far off. I made for the head of the bridge, waving them to a stop with one arm and clutching the baby to my shoulder with the other.
It was a big semi, grinding its gears as it decelerated. The driver rolled down his window and I shouted up at him, "There's a wreck. Go for help."
"I can't turn around here," he said.
He let me and the baby up on the passenger side, and we just sat there in the cab, looking at the wreckage in the headlights.
"Is everybody dead?" he asked.
"I can't tell who is and who isn't," I admitted. He poured himself a cup of coffee from a thermos and switch off all put the parking lights.
"What time is it?"
"Oh, it's around quarter after three," he said.
By his manner, he seemed to endorse the idea of not doing anything about this. I was relieved and tearful. I'd thought something was required of me, but I hadn't wanted to find out what it was.
When another car showed coming in the opposite direction, I thought I should talk to them. "Can you keep the baby?" I asked the truck driver.
"You'd better hang on to him," the driver said. "It's a boy, isn't it?"
"Well, I think so," I said.
The man hanging out of the wrecked car was still alive as I passed, and I stopped, grown a little more used to the idea of how really badly broken he was, and I made sure there was nothing I could do. He was snoring loudly and rudely. His blood bubbled out of his mouth with every breath. He wouldn't be taking many more. I knew that, but he didn't, and therefore I looked down into the great pity of a person's life on this earth. I don't mean that we all end up dead, that's not the great pity. I mean that he couldn't tell me what he was dreaming, and I couldn't tell him what was real.
We'll see whether all these books make it to Istanbul.