I dropped into the local Goodwill this week, lured in by a dress I saw in the window. Naturally, I couldn't leave without also searching the bookshelves for treasures.
Like the best of unexpected pleasures, I didn't know I wanted to read this until I saw it, but I recognized the author and happily pulled it from the shelf. The back cover says Lopez "urges us toward a new attitude, a re-enchantment with the world that is vital to our sense of place, our well-being . . . our very survival."
Checking inside, I realized it was bookmarked with a neatly cut piece of Christmas wrapping paper, and that it held an inscription . . . which drew me instantly into another world.
I imagined Joe and Letitia, sharing this book at that long-ago Christmas, maybe after hiking or camping or being on the water together. It would be a lovely gift between a couple like that.
I wondered if perhaps things didn't work out between them, and if this book was a casualty of a library being divided, no space for all the books where Joe was going, or simply one that he couldn't bear to keep because of what it represented of the past. Perhaps he left it behind and Letitia was the one who couldn't stand to have it around, reminding her of happier times.
It's equally possible to imagine that they lived a happy life together, with this book a cherished part of their bond. Maybe this was their first Christmas together and Letitia's declaration of love -- in writing, in a special book -- was an important turning point for them. Perhaps they forged a re-enchanted life with a shared desire to awaken to their place in the world and belong to it.
Perhaps Joe and Letitia are both gone now, crossing another kind of open ground together. It's been more than 20 years since this book was a crisp new Christmas present. Maybe it was left to someone else to decide that this book should go. Maybe Joe and Letitia -- given a choice -- would never have parted with it.
Whatever the story, the book resides in my library now. Even though I don't know Joe and Letitia, I will remember them. Their book and their love have a safe home with me.