Our local public library has a little bookshop outside it’s doors, where patrons can buy books discontinued from the library’s shelves for just a dollar or two a book.
Yesterday, I found myself perusing the selection, looking for something I could turn into a scrapbook. I wanted something with a solid cover and binding, with room for plenty of pictures, pieces of paper and random paraphernalia. I want it to be nice and scrappy, and I want it to last.
I found the perfect fit, in a Good Housekeeping Cookbook from the early 2000s. Hardcover, ring binding, plenty of room to grow. I brought it to the counter and greeted the clerk, ready to pay. As I’m pulling out my $2, she says, half-jokingly, “Now you’ve got to cook.”
Even though moments before, I had been feeling delightfully transgressive for selecting a book without ever using it as it was intended to be used, I tell her. I say, “Actually, it’s going to become a scrapbook.”
To that, she only says, “Oh.” How she feels about my response is indiscernible from my view. Is she crestfallen? Disgusted? Confused? I’m not sure – but she certainly wasn’t delighted, or even curious. She tells me to have a good day.
Today, I find myself thinking about the word “transgression.” It has a heavily negative connotation in common discourse, equated with rule-breaking and crime. But etymologically, to “transgress” simply means to “cross over.” What then, is the true crime of transgression? It’s possessing the gall to step over the boundaries of sanctioned living and enter the realm of the Unknown. It’s reading the instruction manual, passed down through generations, and choosing to do things differently anyways.
Instruction manuals are reliable, but they’re also rather boring. Sometimes, the companion of such a manual is a comfort, but most days, I’d rather toss it in the fire.