Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Growing into it

The thing about Tam Lin is that I've been growing into it since I got my first copy, and I think I got my first copy when I was 13 or 14. I loved it immoderately at the time, but in some ways I was entirely too young for it: things that should have been references were instead questions I had to get answered. I don't mean sex, drugs, or literature, I mean that I learned the bit about "if it doesn't work, it's physics" from Tam Lin, as no one had seen fit to inform my adolescent self of this maxim about my intended profession. So in less than two pages, I go from grinning at how that bit waas when it was new to me to having tears pricking my eyes at this:

Janet found in her mind the words of some of Tolkien's people, discussing the story they were in and how they might end it. Bilbo had thought of, "And they ll lived happily ever after until they died. It is a good ending," he had said, "and none the worse for having been used before." "Ah!" said Sam, "but where will they live? That's what I often wonder." Janet wondered, too. For four years they would live here. After that, unless somebody made a prodigious and possibly miraculous effort, they would scatter to the four corners of the world, their fellowship broken, and do what all of them had done to be here in this room now: find new friends. It seemed wasteful. Perhaps they could buy an island somewhere.

The first time I read that, I didn't really understand it. I knew what was meant, but I didn't know how it felt. It was interesting. It was, in part, a self-fulfilling prophecy: it told me that I could go off to college and love a group of people like that, and quote things at them and get quoted back at, and live in each other's laps for awhile and be sorry to lose each other. The kind of college I chose and the kind of friendships I found were informed by that. When I reread it in the winter of my sophomore year, I kept sighing the kind of sigh that means, yes, it really is like that.

And now I'm reading this bit, and I miss gaaldine and the_overqual so very much, but also I am selfishly, selfishly grateful that Pamela didn't get an island and neither did I, because it would have been a great shame if they'd been different islands.

Different things snag me each time I read it. When Nora the RA is worried about the kids doing drugs down the hall and says one of them will go out a window, I stick my finger in the book and close my eyes and remember how shaken and scared we were when one of my physics compatriots did just that. But mostly it's not just a college book for me any more. I've been having a think about heart of flesh and heart of stone stuff again, and I've put my finger on the problem with some of the other Tam Lin stories I've read (and written), and I'm writing a story that is and isn't a Tam Lin story, and it's going all right, maybe. It's going, at least. There's more swimming. I'm not sure why the swimming lately. But if there has to be swimming, I suppose there can be swimming. At least it's not mice again.

What books have you grown into? What books do you get now in ways you didn't used to?

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