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That thing I borrowed and never returned
This post is the first of February Smackdown, wherein all happyrobots try to post 1x day on a prescribed topic. Today's topic? That thing I borrowed and never returned.

I am not very good at borrowing things. I am just bad with stuff. I mark up and dog-ear books. I throw clothes on the floor. I shower with jewelry on. In fact, you should probably never lend me anything. Except money, maybe. Money does not devalue with lipstick stains and leaky Tupperware lunches in backpacks.

It gnaws at me to have borrowed items in my possession - each time I come across them, the objects glare at me with palpable disappointment. Worst among these are the ones that you said I could borrow, but paused first and made me promise to return it. Because it had sentimental value.

I still have that book of short stories by that Israeli writer (now deceased) that you wanted back as soon as I was done.  When you leant it to me, we were hanging out all the time, but then you went off on a religious conversion/journey with that wacky yeshiva in Jerusalem and the guy-girl friendship got all bogged down with restrictions like no hugging, no singing, no trips to the Sinai to lie on the beach and smoke water pipes. I was kind of pissed.

So I held on to the book, but a year later, plagued with guilt, I thought I would get the author to sign it, and you would be so happy to have it back you’d forgive me and we could be friends again.

I finally met the writer when he guest lectured at one of my courses. He read my favourite love poem out in class (at my request) and wrote me a special message in the margin of my book. I was so flustered in the moment, trying to keep it graceful, it would've been awkward to give him another book to sign, so I held back.

I am not sure if you'd think it cosmic justice - does that sort of justice exist in your cosmology? - because that precious signed volume of poetry was leant out to someone in the dorms – I can’t remember who - and I never got it back.  Maybe it bothers that person and they will send it back. Maybe they hung onto it over some perceived slight.

I think I will mail you back your book, more than 15 years later. With facebook and all, it won't be that hard to track down your address. At any rate, it was not a very good collection. Dense and slow-moving prose, where his poetry really sang.

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post #1485
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