The Old Rituals

When I was a kid, allowance time was a ritual. I took my money and promptly put it to good use. I headed down to Hastings to get my hands on the latest Marvel novel or movie tie-in. I scurried to get my hands on a used Star Trek book or maybe a new one at Wal-Mart. Once every few months, a new Star Wars book hit, a special event. It was an exciting time.

Those days are now long past.

I think about them because of what happens when I try to recreate them. I have, of late, tried to do this to little avail. It starts similar. My day off, I’ve got money. I head to Barnes and Noble–the Hastings in the area is long closed–and I try to pick up a book.

What happens when I get there? Crippling indecision coupled with frustrating logic. I look at the books. Many quite appealing. I contemplate a purchase. My mind revolts. It screams at me. “Don’t you buy this! You don’t want it!” So it is that I walk around, contemplating but ultimately leaving.

I’ve been thinking about what’s changed for me as an adult. Obviously, I have far more responsibilities. Bills and groceries are a thing! But that’s not the only factor. I now have far greater access to quality free books through the library to the point where the odds are 1 in 1.5 that the library will get a book I want. I’ve also gone through three moves in three years. The thought of adding a book to the pile infuriates me. I’ve also outgrown the simplistic writing of many of these books. They’re not for me.

It hurts to not return down that path as easily. Nostalgia is after all a pain for something we can’t return to. I wish I still felt the drive to collect tie-ins as I once did because it was a fun hobby. I’m more likely to chase down obscure trade paperbacks or older, out of print novelizations now. But even that’s reduced. And I miss it.

It’s inevitable to long on some level for the habits and routines long gone. For those of us on the spectrum, they defined us. Now time has passed and we aren’t who we once were. That sense of self is vital to us. It’s scary to realize you aren’t who you are.

And yeah, we do try to return anyway. As I noted before, there are joys we find eternal and they’re reliable. But much of it we can’t and we shouldn’t. I have no business rewatching most of the things I loved as a kid. I have no business revisiting the books I loved then. And I’m smart enough to know that, though I slip from time to time.

The Saturday routine though? That I’ll always miss and for good reason. It was a joyous moment in my week that gave me peace when I lacked it otherwise. Of course I’d love to recapture that. But I must concede that I can’t and that I’ve evolved.

So it is that on Tuesday morning, my day off, I’ll get up. I’ll deposit my wife at work. I’ll drive over to the library, write for an hour. I’ll drive around. I’ll get something to drink, maybe something to eat. The new routine will go on. It’s not my old one. But in time it’ll be as missed as my old one.

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2 thoughts on “The Old Rituals

  1. You’re right, we can’t go back….
    As a kid, I used to spend cold or rainy Saturdays at the library… haven’t gone back in ages now. Warm days were spent out in the woods or on my bike. As an adult, my Saturdays are still my free day (kids visit their Dad) but I find routine harder to pin down, constantly shifting, which makes it less relaxing.
    Now I have a used book problem, and have the same issues you do (perhaps not the same reasons) at the “new” bookstore. They are all so nice and pretty looking and possibly interesting but nope, cant do it, and I’m less patient over poor writing than I once was.

    • It’s funny, the library actually looms much larger today for me. This is something that will be pushed on my kids in the future when they exist.

      I’m wildly impatient over poor writing. I hate most “modern” fiction because what tends to be successful is usually arrogant, classist garbage. No fan I.

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