“You know, one meets so many people, the years pass and pass, but there are certain times, certain people…They take up room. So much room. I was married to Howard for twenty-eight years and yet he made only a piddling dent in my memory. A little nick. But certain others, they move in and make themselves at home and start flapping their arms in the story you make of your life. They have a wingspan."
I suppose I’m an old dog. And I’m still a purist. But like Ona Vitkus, I can learn new tricks. For the first time, I’m listening to audio books. I’m listening, ears perked, even though I’ve been slam-bang in the middle of Joe Queenan’s camp: “I do not listen to audio books for the same reason I do not listen to baked ziti—it lacks the personal touch.” Move over Joe. I think Meg Conley may have said it better. “Books are too immersive for anything other than paper. I like writing in them, feeling them, staining them with the food I’m eating while I read them. The books I collect across the years I spend here will be a record for my kids.” That’s right Meg. I’m with you—in an ideal world—a world where time is not my betrayer.
Rachel said it herself: “Desperate times call for desperate measures”—and these are desperate times. I’m cheating on the clock with my stony phone. No dog-ears, no water stains from the splash of a bath, no love in the margins. Just me and the hand held that introduced Miss Ona Vitkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who’s as quirky as she is old. She’s 1 hundred and 4 and the least likely candidate to become an eleven-year-old boy’s friend. (Or a middle-aged, inattentive father’s friend for that matter.) But their friendship stops me in my tracks at times. I was glad I knew little to nothing about our March (wait March?!!?) book club selection when I downloaded the audible, which allowed the story to do what it was meant to: unfold. After all, that’s how the most beautiful friendships evolve. A story about a friendship filled with the color and vibrancy of the birds’ morning chorus will always resonate with this girl. By eye or by ear, I loved this one. The truth is this story provided harmony for me—a reminder to be more grateful for the certain others in my life who make themselves at home, the ones (like Rae) with a radiant wingspan.