While the rest of you have been getting on with your lives, I’ve been searching in vain for a suitable bookcase (könyvszekrény) to house the books that MN shipped to me from Ireland. And after some months of brief dalliances and short-lived affairs, I was about to give up hope of ever finding one that would simply jump out at me and scream ‘take me home’. Not that I wanted a screaming könyvszekrény… a loud whisper would have done the trick just as well.
That’s not to say I didn’t meet some wonderful specimens in my travels. I did. There was the lovely tall, reddish, shiny beidermeir wannabe who had style, admittedly. And it had height – always a plus in my book. But it was just that little bit too polished for my liking. It was trying that little bit too hard to be just what I wanted. There is something very off-putting about too much class. It can make you feel a tad inferior (if, of course, you’re one of those poor unfortunates who suffer from brief moments of self-doubt).
Then there was the matching pair of rustics… old wardrobes cut down to make bookshelves. Workable, reliable, and easy on the eye but they lacked excitement. They had no get up and go. Not that you’d want a bookcase that got up and went but still, they didn’t do it for me either. They were the right price, the right height, the right width, the right colour; on paper they were perfect but there was no chemistry. We would have bored of each other quite quickly. Long winter evenings with nothing to talk about, nothing to say.
I thought I’d cracked it last week when I came across one fronted by the trademark black wooden pillars of an earlier beidermeir period. Tall, thin, classic looking, a tad more expensive than I’d bargained for, it had an air of mystery about it. Something that begged you to ask it more. It had an allure, an intelligence. It stood awash in a quiet certitude of experience and dignity, turning its dark corner of the basement into a little oasis of light and calm. It nearly had me. I’m a sucker for good breeding. I’ve noticed though that I can convince myself of just about anything. I’m my own best listener. I can spin myself a tale and make myself believe whatever I want to believe about whomever or whatever. And that can be dangerous. So although that particular piece ticked all the right boxes, there was something a little too convenient about it… and that little something fed into what I felt was a growing, if quiet sense of desperation. I was in need of a könyvszekrény.
And then, totally by accident, completely unexpectedly, on my way to the register to put my name on the classic, black-pillared specimen, having resigned myself to something I swore I’d never do (i.e., settle for less than I deserved), JFW pointed out another. And it was love at first sight. It wasn’t that youthful heart-racing, sweaty-palmed, knock-kneed sort of lust, but a more mature, dignified acceptance of fate. We were meant to be. It had legs. It stood high, tall, and proud. Its mismatched glass doors radiated character – one side bevelled, the other plain – yin and yang. It was just the right shade of confident and had that well-travelled look about it. This baby would tell some tales. It had class – the right sort of class. It looked good, spoke volumes, and could definitely hold its own with the Art Deco table, the china cabinet, and the chobi rug. This was a keeper.
It moved in on Saturday and we’ve been getting to know each other slowly. I like to think it’s as happy as I am with the living arrangements. And so what if the bottom drawer doesn’t close because the lock is locked in the open position and the key is missing – its imperfections make it even more charming. And, I don’t think I’ll be changing the glass anytime soon either. Different is good. Conventional is boring. And that little edge of never quite knowing how it will reflect my image of myself as I pass by makes life interesting.