“A Gift” by Kelly Daspit
“A Gift” by Kelly Daspit
Well there I was … surrounded by vintage books and antiquities – a tiny oasis of heaven in the middle of what was undoubtedly the most hellish period of my life.
My decade-long marriage was ending, and though I knew it was necessary, I was an emotional wreckage. It was the week after Christmas, and through a series of events, I had ended up three hours from home in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, where I happened to wander into an old used bookstore, simply named Jim Reed Books. The dimly lit shop, fragranced by aged leather and papers, was crammed from floor to ceiling with old books and various curiosities. In the midst of the clutter, sitting on a table in a corner, was a black, antique Royal typewriter, circa 1930s or so. I’ve always loved old typewriters, the nostalgia and the obsolescence of them, the vestiges of long gone times they represented. Every time I ventured upon one in an antique shop, I would linger over it, survey the price, and move on. Maybe one day, I would tell myself. But for some reason, this particular typewriter called out to me, spoke to my writer’s soul perhaps, and I wanted it so badly I could hardly stand it.
My fingers rested over the keys, as I envisioned myself typing out a letter or a poem on it. Still, I didn’t have the money for it, and it was such an unnecessary expenditure. So instead of inquiring as to the price, I fished my camera from my purse and snapped its picture. What possessed me to do that, I have no idea. A brief drop of frivolity amid a vat of heartache.
The year that followed was a torrent of madness, sorrow, fear, bitter endings, new beginnings, and amazingly enough, falling in love again. In fact, by the time Christmas had rolled around again the following year, I had thrown caution to the wind, decided to go with my impetuous heart, and married a man I had only dated for a few short months. Yes, everyone must have thought we were crazy, and I wasn’t so sure they were wrong. For although Tommy was everything I’d ever dreamed of in a man – kind, compassionate, brilliant, funny, with the most beautiful gray-green eyes God had ever graced upon a human, and though I believed our mutual love for each other to be rare and true, I was plagued by uncertainties. He had moved halfway across the country to be with me, and I had left all that I’d ever known to be with him. We had taken a giant leap of hope and hadn’t yet landed on solid ground. And now that the honeymoon was officially over, reality was staring us in the face. Worries about restarting his business in a new market, over finding a house we could afford, over whether our children could cope with all these sudden transitions. So many changes. Had we been foolish? Was our love alone truly enough to build a life and blend a family upon? Honestly, I wasn’t sure.
It was present unwrapping time on Christmas Eve night, and Tommy set a heavy package in front of me. “I hope you like it,” he whispered, maybe a little nervously. We had promised not to spend much on gifts, to instead find something meaningful or sentimental. Perhaps easier said than done. I unwrapped the box and my mouth dropped. A vintage typewriter! Just exactly like I’d always wanted. Already, he knew me so well.
“Where did you get this?” I asked.
He shrugged. “I found a used book store in downtown Birmingham the other day. It was just sitting on a table in the corner. I started to leave, but for some reason I kept being pulled back to it. It’s strange, but it’s like something was telling me this old typewriter had to be yours.”
Quietly I stood and left the room. I returned carrying a year-old picture, the one I had taken in that bookstore when he was living 600 miles away, before either of us had any idea that our lives would be joined. I handed him the picture of the typewriter – there was no doubt. It was the same. We stared at it and at each other, dumbfounded. How…? And in the middle of our astonishment, at that moment I think we both knew that yes, we were going to be just fine.