My Amazon.com delivery arrived today and in it were Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 and Old New York in Early Photographs, 1853-1901: 196 Prints from the Collection of the New York Historical Society. I cannot describe or explain the joy I felt when I pulled these two beautiful books out of the box. I'd been wanting Gotham for the longest time, and I scour the internet frequently for the NY Historical Society photos that I now own. I felt loved and pampered... book nerd style.
I don't know why history does this to me. It makes my heart beat faster...perks up my senses...makes me come a bit more alive. I feel inserted into time, perhaps. You choose your place in time, or it chooses you. There's so much power in that. Perhaps I'm moved by the idea of not being forgotten. Perhaps I'm moved that I can look at photos of people who lived before me, see what they built and know that their lives are remembered for that one moment. Maybe I crave a safe, pseudo-connection that I've romanticized. In any case, I'm really happy those books arrived today.
Addendum: In a separate delivery later today, I received a biography of George Appo that I'd ordered. George Appo was a half-Asian, half-white notorious pickpocket and con man in the Five Points area during its "heyday." His entire life is representative of that area...biracial family, born and raised in poverty, opium addict, self-taught survival... Now, when I'm going to find the time to read all of these books is another tale all to itself. I AM NOT ALLOWED TO BUY ANY MORE BOOKS!
(I think I mentioned this before, but if you're interested in reading more about the Five Points district, or late nineteenth century New York, this is a great book. I first learned about Mr. Appo and the area that raised him there.)