Random Musing: On bookmarks

graphic by Caleigh Dwyer

I never used to see the need for bookmarks. I read a lot of books when I was younger, but always just kept my place in my mind. It wasn’t that I didn’t think bookmarks were pretty. I collected a stack on my nightstand: oak tag with tissue paper and Mod Podge, paint-splattered construction paper, glossy cardstock. But bookmarks just weren’t necessary for keeping my place in my Baby-Sitters Little Sister books.

It was at some point in ninth grade when I started using bookmarks. Suddenly I saw the extreme functionality they had: I could keep one in the front of my book to see the text I was reading, and one in the back to keep track of the author’s notes! I could, as I so often do, leave a book lying on the floor next to my bed for months, and find the exact page where I left off! That pile of paper and laminate on my nightstand was suddenly worth something.

I culled my collection, making about twenty-five that were the nicest to look at accessible at all times. Now each time I start a new book, there is a decision that must be made about which bookmark to use. Bookmarks have to match not only the color and design of the book, but also the subject and mood. I can only start reading when the bookmark is firmly wedged somewhere between center pages of the text where it’s the least likely to fall out.

Around the same time that I started using paper bookmarks, I began obsessing over my internet bookmark collection. I starred any page online that seemed useful to me. My disorganized life was now filed away into neatly labeled categories. I soon found that bookmarks were awesome! I could always be able to find that poem I read last December and that video we watched in freshman biology. My bookmarks became compartmentalized snapshots of everything—thoughts I’ve had, things I wanted to do, places I’ve been—each summarized by a colorful icon and the first words of the webpage. Scrolling through my bookmarks in their chronological order tells a pleasantly nostalgic story of my life in high school.

Last week, two things happened. First, my internet browser crashed, and I was worried all of my bookmarks were gone forever, lost on some server I would never see. But when the browser started working again, they were all there, anchored in their folders. Second, I pulled a book off of my shelf that I hadn’t touched in a year and a half. A bookmark I had forgotten I even owned drifted to the floor. I saw the page I had never finished and put the book next to my bed for later.

My bookmarks are patient, a trait I feel I’ve always lacked. For weeks, months, years, they stay calmly in their places, waiting until I find them again.