Last night I dreamed of books and dragonflies. I was in a larger version of my bedroom, where every wall, including the ceiling, was covered with shelving, which of course, was filled to capacity with books. That in and of itself is not all surprising. I mean other than the bit where the volumes were defying gravity. The floor, on the other hand, was covered with a pond, with reeds sticking up and fish moving beneath the surface. I dreamed I got out of bed, the only piece of furniture in the room besides all the archaic shelving, and walked on the water, the ripples spilling out where my feet landed. I was wearing white pajamas (which I don’t own out of the dream world) and no shoes, and I remember feeling worried because I couldn’t identify a light source anywhere. The place on the wall where the window sits normally, had been replaced by yet more shelves, as has the location of the overhead light. I spotted lamps randomly fitted onto some of the stacks, but they weren’t lit. Thinking about it, I’m not sure why I was so concerned; I could see just fine, even with the absence of a light source. Dream logic is fascinating.
Anyway, at some point I decided to take a look at some of the books surrounding me. I recognised some, not others. One particular volume was called The Last Place He Ran, which I think is an amazing title. Another was titled Things From Distant Hats which sounds like exactly the kind of quirky novel I would enjoy reading. The first book I actually picked up was Where all the Light Is, which I picked up on the basis of needing to find some illumination and hoping it would provide some information. It did. Not exactly in a conventional way, but it did provide an answer.
From between the centre pages of the book flew a large, glowing dragonfly. It hovered around for a moment, before sweeping away across the water, it’s glimmer reflecting on the surface, and passing through into one of the dark lamps. The moment the creature passed into the glass of the bulb, a golden glow filled the space. I picked up another tomb and the same thing happened, and again and again, until every lamp was filled and lit and the whole room was illuminated with a beautiful halo of gold. It shimmered in the pond, exciting the fish. When all the lamps were bright, the dragonflies started to hover near the water, and sit peacefully on the reeds, and dance around like the air is a playground. Everything became warm and I sat on top of the pond, watching, wondering how paper had conjured these magnificent insects right before me, so real I could see them outside my head.
Que alarm and subsequent waking. The day seemed rather dull after a dream like that. I kept hoping dragonflies would pop out of my book, that I’d find them hiding near the spine, instead of my old bookmark.
I’ve used the same bookmark for seven years; it’s not a particularly special bookmark, just a basic card deal with a funny caption and a cartoon cat. It was given to me as part of a box of random little presents by a friend, who is no longer a friend, and I think I stuck with it because it was all I had to hand. After a while it just became my bookmark, as things do. I know someone who still uses an old postcard he didn’t end up sending as his bookmark after five years, and I find all sorts of cool makeshift bookmarks left in returned library books, everything from letters, to post-it notes, and even playing cards. Once upon a time, these bits and pieces were just the closest thing to hand when the reader had to shut the pages; they received a significant upgrade just by sitting in vicinity of an unprepared reader who didn’t have the forethought to anticipate having to unexpectedly close their book. From what I recall, I was such a negligent reader, and believe I was disturbed while making notes for an essay, and had to throw something into my creative writing textbook. Ever since then, it’s been what I use to hold my pages.
That book mark is getting old… actually, I’ll be honest, it’s falling apart. The card is spliting, the laminate that once protected it is basically gone, and the ribbon secured to the top is frayed. It’s been glued back together twice, but I don’t think a third attempt at a mend is going to do much good. It’s a weird thing to consider, but I’ve been toying with the notion of retiring it. Seems ridiculous right? Pondering putting a piece of card into retirement? But that bookmark has become significant to me. We’ve got a history now. It may have started with a fling, but its become a long term devotion, involving a seven year journey. When I’m in the books, the book mark is out of them and vice versa. I feel as though that bookmark carries with it, every story I’ve read since I started using it, and I’m sad that its breaking apart, because in a way I feel as though it has an essence, that it has captured the wisdom of all those pages. The poor thing has more than served its time, and as such, it doesn’t deserve to be dumped, it deserves to be retired.
Just like the dragonflies from between the pages of my dream books, the bookmark glows with the light of hundreds of books, thousands and thousands of pages, and immeasurable hours of reading time. Now I want to set it free, to bring it to the lake to rest on a reed or a lily.