My address book had ripped pages, a broken binding, all manner of food stains, and a red flowered cover that ripped off years ago. It was so filled with cross-outs that I strained my eyes trying to send out holiday cards, and it was stuffed full of old envelopes with return addresses that I wanted to save. I'd been searching for an address book with a binding that wouldn't break and pages that lay flat so I could copy an address without holding the book open. My mother found me a book that fit my criteria exactly and gave it to me for Christmas.
Today, I was stuck on the couch with a knee injury – yes, that stupid injury which hasn't completely healed yet even though it's been a WHOLE WEEK. The house was quiet because all the kids, on this beautiful white and blue and gold winter day, were off snowboarding. Without me. Sigh. I was feeling too sorry for myself to do something like grade papers, and the knee injury at least gave me the excuse not to do housework, so I looked for another project and decided to copy all the addresses into the brand new book. The clean white pages were waiting.
Reading through the old address book brought back memories; I kept seeing the names of relatives who have died, friends who have moved away, or friends who have simply disappeared from my life. Deaths, divorces, marriages, births – all these life events were reflected in the splotched pages. I copied over only the addresses I still need, leaving old street numbers and city names to fade away in the tattered old book.
Of course, I don't use an address book as often as I used to. Most of my friends send me emails these days, or call on the telephone. But still, I feel comforted knowing where long-distance friends are located. I feel reassured printing in the address for Artist Friend, who lives faraway in the State With the Derby Where They Serve Mint Juleps, although he prefers to think of it as the State Where Real Men Drink Bourbon, and the address for Poet Woman, who has moved to the City Where They Make Cars. I like that Brooklyn Friend lives on a street that has the same name as my oldest sister. Urban Sophisticate Sister has moved so many times that she used up a whole section of my last address book – but as I wrote in her latest address, I thought fondly of her little apartment in the Big City Like No Other.
By the end of the afternoon, I had a completed address book, filled only with addresses I might reasonably need the next time I send holiday cards. I put the old address book, filled with cross-outs, stuffed with envelopes and post-it notes, in a ziplock bag and tucked it away on a shelf. I couldn't quite bring myself to put it in the trash.