I remember being around 21 and looking through my mom’s collection of books for something to read. She had converted the 3rd bedroom into a library with two walls lined with custom bookshelves. She and her twin sister started collecting books about 5 or 6 years before. Oh, they were both avid readers already, but they turned their hobby into a bit of a… well… obsession. ;) Between the two of them they could have opened a small bookstore and my cousin and I had joked about it for years, even envisioned a little tea room and calling the place, “Matching Bookends”.
I think my cousin and I liked the idea more than them. Not only did we both love to decorate we had also started collecting and swapping books back and forth years earlier. Admittedly she was the better collector. She would find her books at garage sales and half price places while I’d buy them full price because I couldn’t wait for the next book. I remember joining book clubs by mail. And though I wasn’t trying to hide my collection the only place I could store them was in a couple of empty drawers I had, which might be why my mom had no idea I loved to read so much.
When I was getting ready to move out, just weeks after finishing my associate’s degree and days before my wedding, I remember taking my books to Goodwill; I think I had around 60 or 70. A small collection but considering the prices I paid… it was a nice chunk of change. After settling into married life and full time work I went back to reading and was so thankful that my mom and her sister were now buying them up. Since ‘fun money’ was nonexistent now that I had rent and car payments it was great going through her loot.
One day, while our moms were making lists of authors, books and which series were complete and which books they still needed, my cousin and I started talking about some of the books we had shared over the years. Many were pretty forgettable but there was one we had passed back and forth on several occasions. The book was already in bad shape when she bought it, but by the time we had both read it 2 or 3 times each there was half a cover left and more dog eared pages then not.
Neither one of us could remember the title but my cousin was sure she still had it. She was going to mail it to me so I could read it again and see if it was as good as I had remembered it at around age 13 or so. Days past and I hadn’t heard back from her and no book showed up in the mail. The next time we saw each other she informed me that it wasn’t in her collection or her mom’s. So we started to search my mom’s just in case her mother had passed it along to mine… no luck. That day we decided to keep our eyes open for it but didn’t talk about it again for years.
In 2003, nearly 10-years later, my folks moved out west and my mom had a room built just for her collection. I wasn’t joking… OBSESSION! ;) To fuel her “passion” every time my aunt, cousin and I came to visit we’d check out garage sales and tiny bookstores. I was surprised by how many there were but what do you do in the middle of nowhere? Yep, you read. So one afternoon we stumbled upon a little wood framed house with a shed full of books and an old lady that had a collection that surpassed my mom’s, course she had longer to collect. My mom will get there. ;)
Anyway, as we’re looking through the books my cousin find the one we had searched for years earlier. We had a good laugh about finding it in the middle of nowhere and talk about buying it, but my cousin (having forgotten that she’d already looked) said she had it at home and she’d mail it to me when she got back. So we put the book back and left. A few days later it was the same story, not in her collection, not in her mom’s or my mom’s. WTHeck!?!
We both could have kicked ourselves… or each other for having forgotten and because we just stumbled on the place and it was weeks later before we talked about it… we couldn’t remember where the house was. Side note: my mom lived 3-hours away so it wasn’t like we could just hop in the car and go check… and we didn’t show my mom the book so she didn’t know what to look for… AND we didn’t write the info down because… well I blame my cousin on that one. (Love you Cuz!)
So this time we actually take notes. We try to brainstorm and remember character names, locations, timeframes… anything we can think of. We narrow it down to a Zebra Romance, the main character being Cat and we’re pretty sure it’s short for Catherine. We think the guys name is Gray Wolf and we know it’s set in the frontier and she’s been kidnapped by Native Americans… but that’s really it.
Years of Google searches, book review pages, quick trips in to old and new book stores yielded nothing. I stopped actively looking for it, but my cousin… well… she has that obsessive gene as well. That and she had the book longer so she remembered it better. ;) A few days ago, 11/26/2012 to be exact, she tried researching it again online. This time leaving out a few things like Zebra Romance Novels and Gray Wolf and bam, she found a blog that had the book cover and a review. She recognized it instantly and went straight to Amazon and bought two copies.
This morning I open the mail and there it was with a big purple post it note that says: “I Win! :)” Inside the front cover: “Do Not Ever Give Away!!” No problem Cuz, it’s been about 25-years since I last read it and 20-years of looking for it. If it’s total crap I’m still going to pass it down to my kids and tell them how important it is. Not because of the cover or content, but because it’s one of those childhood/teen/young adult and now ‘mature’ adult memories that I shared with my cousin.
*Shh, my favorite cousin. ;) I love you Marnie! You ROCK!!
And I bow down to your greatness!!!