“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

6.15.2010

The Prodigal Reader

I knew it would return, would find its way back to me again, or that I would return to it, would find it along this narrow road I have navigated the past year or so - the love of reading, of whole books in one gulp, of a good story. Lost to me lately, this last couple of years, lost in the living of my days, gone with the death of a friend - I can pinpoint it to then, gone with the need to hold a cat closer before she too was no longer here, gone with the absolute have-to-write-it-downs I suffered from, the hardness of each day, the search for hidden gifts and beauty in the shadows of realities.

Return it did, a week or two ago, returning with an insatiable appetite - I began with silly stories, pulp fiction, not-quite-but-awfully-close-to romance novels, books purchased at used bookstores, easy to toss after reading. I could not get enough, needed another's words, another's stories, could not have cared less that the writing was mediocre, stuffed with too many adjectives. I was starving and the first course was easy to swallow, easily digested, the jellos, the toasted white bread books. I would grow anxious as the end of each grew visibly nearer. Bookstores called to me; I scanned the stacks of unread books here at home for something bland, but something that would hold my interest, Dairy Queen vanilla with no chocolate. If someone had appeared on the street corner, the trunk of his car full of books - pssst, little girl, just try one - I would have asked no questions; I would have scrounged quarters and bartered old jewelry for new words. The couch once again became my home, no tv on now, no need to turn off any sound; each morning I awoke to read and each evening fell asleep with a book beside me in the bed. The couch at work became a place of refuge, Lily cat nestled beside me. I read in the car when Michael was in the bank.

Eventually I progressed to tastier treats, rereading books that brought joy, finding a new one to take a permanent place on my bookshelf. I moved the unread stack next to my bed to a different place, mixing them with others read and unread, no longer a reminder of things undone. I remembered hiding a hundred dollar bill in The God of Small Things a few years ago and forgetting it until I picked the book up to try once again to read. It is still unread, only a few pages managed, but I blame the hundred dollars for the last failure.

It has been a long journey; I, the prodigal reader, at last home again. The words are comforts, are like old friends consoling me with their company and a glass of iced tea. Sweetened. There is a lemon pound cake on the table, and the words reach across and hold my left hand as my right picks up a fork and takes another bite.

14 comments:

  1. How did I live my whole life without knowing you? I did that yesterday, read a whole book, it is in my post for tomorrow, and I was thinking the same thing, that it has been way, way too long since I did that...and just now I am going to get into bed to start The Help and I am wishing that I could stay up all night and read.
    When I was in school I got teased because all I did was read, when we ordered Scholastic books, most kids got 2 or 3, I always got 8 or 10...and that was never enough to last until the next order.
    I am so reminiscing about empty summer days that weren't empty, but filled with words. And now these days, my life has your words in it as well, and that is wonderful.
    p.s., geez, sorry for rambling on....

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  2. Yes, the problem is that when you go through a time of life when you're reading little, you feel that you have to read more and more complex books to make up for that fact. Of course, these books make it even harder to keep the habit going. I always like to kick off a season of heavyweights with a Flashman book.

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  3. Oh isn't that the best! I think now that I have put flickr to rest, I will have time for reading. I have missed it so. And thank you so much for your comments...really... :) xoxo

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  4. the beautiful blossoms scattered around make me want to curl up for a good read..
    pound cake and ice tea...makes the page turning even better...hope you have dried out!!

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  5. All is dry around me. I've heard on the news that some agency is here to help those who sustained damage. Thankfully not me. :)

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  6. I love that the refuge of reading is always there... waiting. I'll go months without reading a book at all... then, I'll read myself through several... until sated.

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  7. Welcome back Debi~ A few years ago, during a particularly painful time, I lost my heart for gardening. But as it slowly healed, my garden came looking for me... and we found eachother again. I can honestly say that now I have an even better appreciation for it. (: xxxVicki

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  8. What can I say to this? YEA!! I rejoice with you. Not only that the joy of reading has returned, but for the healing this signals. I am thrilled for you. Thrilled.

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  9. A delectable post, a lemon poundcake of a post. You're right--when a person can indulge in books again, that person is healing. I'm so glad you are.

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  10. Reading is such delight. I am a voracious reader, both of old favorites and new books, but I don't think I have ever heard anyone speak of reading in such beautiful, loving terms. Debi, you constantly amaze and inspire me.

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  11. i have a wonderful book (books) for you...Soldier of the Great war, by Mark Helprin; i am totally captivated, lost, absorbed and in love...right now. and then Ahab's Wife or the Stargazer, by Sena Jeta Naslund... both had my utterly transported!!!!

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  12. I used to be a voracious reader. Now, my eyes cannot handle too much reading or in front of the computer. Part of aging, I guess, for me! I miss reading, but I do know that I am the type to ignore the rest of the world whilst my nose is buried in a book.
    I feel a bit envious that you've gotten back in to it. I fantasize that someday I will get back into it.

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  13. i go in stages with reading too it seems. but love it so much when I find books that take me into them.
    Eliza mentioned Ahab's Wife. I loved that book too.

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  14. How I've missed your writing.

    When I come to your blog, it's like Dairy Queen vanilla WITH the chocolate..and coloured sprinkles.

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