I arrived excited. I found all the books! Laforet, Cela, Delibes, Martín Gaite, Goytisolo…

This is going to be a great semester!

I love novels and these novelists would take me back to a place in time, my Spain.

Our professor stopped to admire my stack of novels at the end of class.

“I was able to find all but one used!”

That’s exciting for a grad student squeezing all her pennies.

“And in these all the important passages are already highlighted!” I bubbled as I opened one of the books to show her the streaks of florescent yellow.

“Careful with that,” she said. “We don’t all read for the same reasons.”

“Oh? But the important parts… ”

“Are not the same for everyone.”

She took my novel and flipped through it.

“She might highlight the cleverly camouflaged references to the Civil War. He underscored the metaphors about gay communities. Maybe what’s significant to you are the alliterations… the ones that make the passages roll off the tongue like poetry.”

I do enjoy well-placed poetry in prose.

Life is a used book. We’re not the first to fall in love, we’re not the first to shatter on the rocks of heartbreak. We’re not the first to raise a child, to find a friend, to lose a loved one.

We live used stories. But we make our used books our own, stopping to mark and chew on the words that resonate within us.

After class, I stopped at the coop again to buy an orange highlighter.

I wish I could let that professor know, find her and tell her how much she taught me about life that sunny afternoon in Prescott Hall.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2021