• Betty Bastai

¡Saludos! Encouraged Me To Persevere With My Spanish Class

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

A few days before February 5: I noticed this bilingual book of poetry in the little free library 3. He had several attractive qualities. The poems were printed in English and Spanish, they were about New Mexico and written by local poets. But I hesitated and left him there out of a nagging fastidiousness. I thought it had too many pages. (One of my rules in finding the right books to read for the Memory Loop action art project is that they cannot be too lengthy.) After several failing attempts to find a shorter interesting book at the main library bookstore and other LFLs I changed my mind.

Wednesday, February 5: Luckily, ¡Saludos! was still sitting on the bottom shelf of that same library as if he was waiting for me. I took him home and found inside a bookmark from the Living Batch Bookstore. On one side it had an image of a blue-skinned Hindu God and on the other a 1992 calendar. "Funny," I thought,"I worked in India for six months in 1992!" I eagerly started to read ¡Saludos! and learn new Spanish words at the same time.

Sunday, March 8: I typed the letter to reader # 3 at the same city park where I had created the letter for reader #2. I was impressed by my manual typewriter's sturdiness despite its several mechanical hiccups, which, of course, occurred throughout this typing session again.

Tuesday, March 31st: I added to ¡Saludos! the letter, the bookmarks, a small jacket cover and two rubber bands to hold everything together. Then, I returned the book to LFL 3 wishing him good luck. Surprisingly, there was a caring sign language cut out taped to the door of the library. It made my day.

Sunday, April 5: Something unusual happened. I went by the LFL 3 to find out whether the book was still there. Immediately, I noticed that someone stocked the library with several paperback volumes that filled the bottom shelf and prevented me from seeing ¡Saludos!. After moving those volumes out of the way, I noticed that the two rubber bands were missing. My heart sank because it was not a good sign. In fact, when I opened the book I could not find the letter to reader # 3 and the origami instructions anymore. On my way back home I kept asking myself the same questions over and over again: “Who on earth took them away? Why did she/he leave the book behind?"

Monday, April 6: I was not ready to give up hope of finding the letter and the origami instructions again. I walked to the little free library 3 and inspected the book. To my disappointment, the only thing that was resting between its pages was the bookmark with the blue-skinned Hindu God.

Will the letter and instructions find their way back to book 3?

Will book 3 wait for them to return?

Monday, April 13: Today it snowed. The universe must have listened to my wish to travel back to winter because I needed to film some wintry scenes for a video that I am planning to produce sometime in the future. I bundled up, grabbed my tripod and GoPro camera and looked for a good backdrop to shoot falling snow in my neighborhood.

I walked by the little free library 3 and stopped to check, for the third time, if the letter to reader # 3 and the origami instructions had returned with the help of the same cosmic force that made the cloudy sky weep snow rather than rain. Once again, the library's bottom shelf was filled with new used books. After reshuffling all those volumes I discovered that ¡Saludos! was missing and I kicked myself for not checking the library sooner.

I wanted to start all over again with book 3. I wanted to re-type the letter to reader # 3 and for this purpose I was able to photocopy the pattern of the original letter at a FedEx store. I wanted to re-write the origami instructions, insert those papers inside the book and relocate ¡Saludos! to a different little free library. I hoped that, in this way, chance would be on my side and attract folks interested in interacting with the book according to my instructions.

Book 3 has a small jacket cover with my contact information on it. Maybe the new owner of ¡Saludos! will reach out to me. Is she/he the same person who picked up the letter to reader # 3 and the origami instructions?

Does this letter still exist or, after being opened and read, has ended up in a recycling facility and become part of a priceless roll of toilet paper?

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Thank You and Happy Reading!

Memory Loop Action Art Project/Book 3

¡Saludos! Poemas de Nuevo Mexico/Poems of New Mexico

Edited by Jeanie C. Williams and Victor Di Suvero

Publisher: Pennywhistle Press, Santa Fe, NM

Year: 1995

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