I don’t use a bookmark.

In the Company of WomenAs I finished one of the new books that lives on my great-grandmothers’s pie safe in my living room, I prepared to throw away the empty page of stickers I’d been using as a bookmark. The stickers had all been used to seal note cards I’d sent to someone here or there. It originally housed six, round stickers to be exact.

Before standing to walk to the trash can and to put the finished book back on the shelf, I thought to myself how strange that I was throwing away my “bookmark.” It made me think back on the randomness that I’d used as a bookmark in the past. It made me wonder what I’d stuffed in those others books on the shelf to hold my page. Old receipts, business cards, and a half of a napkin are all things that come to mind.

My first thought was something along the lines of “get your shit together” (the reoccurring rumination I force upon myself when I feel inadequate) “and get a real bookmark.” The world is filled with pretty bookmarks. Floral patterns, fun quotes, or initials. You can likely get a bookmark with anything you could dream up on it. And yet I continue to use whatever randomness is nearby when I start to read. Why can’t I just buy a real f-ing bookmark!

I stare at this empty page which used to hold beautiful round stickers and at first, I glare at it with resentment. Then, in an attempt to show the universe who’s boss, I smile. I tell myself that I’m happy to fill my books with randomness instead of carefully selected bookmarks. Who has time to find a bookmark when it’s time to close the book for the day anyway? No one, I’d like to imagine.

I decided in that moment that my used napkin of a bookmark is a testament to my outlook on life. I use what’s nearby, disregarding “rules” or expected behavior. I’m stuffing each new book with something new, something that doesn’t seem to belong. In some ways, I’m giving new life to something who’s role is seemingly over. And I’m absolutely romanticizing my laziness over bookmarks into something more grandiose.

You know what though? That’s who I am. I’m the girl who stares at an empty sticker sheet and dreams up a full story about it. I’m the girl who turns something as simple as a bookmark into a story. I’m the girl who ignores what’s considered proper and makes nothing into something. Into a bookmark, as a matter of fact.

I realized in that moment that I’ve always tended to make something out of nothing. I’ve always made the most of whatever I had at hand. I’ve saved slivers of leftover ribbon and used for other packages. I’ve folded tiny squares of wrapping paper and saved them for something just that size. I’ve decorated house after house with random shit I’ve collected, found, or bought cheaply somewhere. I’ve made full paragraphs out of a few words about a bookmark. It’s who I am.

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