You know that saying, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone? Well, sometimes, you don’t really know until you get it back.
Experiencing that this week with a book. Ever since Willie died, I have had a struggle with reading. For the first year, I very literally could not read more than a paragraph – and even that was a challenge – while retaining the information. Books were an impossibility. Magazines became picture books to me; flipping pages, scanning insipid articles and picking out phrases to gather the content. Online articles I would start reading only to flick off of within a few seconds. Reading for pleasure; the joy of picking up a book and disappearing, gone.
All of my life I have been a reader. Plunk me down in a used book store or a library and I am in my happy place. Like a child in front of a sundae buffet whose eyes are bigger than its tummy, my thirst for books was greater than any reasonable amount of time I had to read. I kept (and keep) a list of books to read, authors to peruse and subjects to hunt down. I have an open note in my phone that is constantly added to for just that purpose. Suffice to say, I love to read. Loved. Love.
About a year ago I started trying to start reading again. Short stories, old ones that I had read before and that I knew I enjoyed… authors that I knew had a knack for drawing me in within those first pages. Making it easy on myself. It worked somewhat. I could make it through a story of a few pages in length. Usually having to re-read paragraphs here and there, but getting by. But the novels I tried… I’m not even sure how many books I took out from the library, renewed, renewed again…. finally returned, mostly unread. With each one, getting more and more disappointed that my escape and retreat was gone it felt like.
Then a couple of months ago, I finished a book. It wasn’t great and I had to really push myself and to be honest, I skimmed through a lot of it. But I finished it. That alone made me smile. I started reading a new book. As usual, the first few pages, my brain jumped all over again. I have a running background of chatter and visuals and just everything that is a constant since Willie died. It’s like a game of ping pong gone haywire with extra balls and bouncy walls. Usually I can dilute it with focus and attention on a “must-do” but reading for pleasure doesn’t rank up there so… the mind skitters and jumps and hides in corners while my eyes try to relay the words to the brain and have it all make sense… is there any wonder it doesn’t click together?
I pushed through, a couple of pages here, a couple there over a week or so. Then it caught. I was sitting and thinking that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened. I actually *wanted* to pick up the book and read.
It has been so long since I’ve felt that urgency while reading. The all-consuming I can’t wait until I get pick up that book and be back inside that story…the feeling while reading that my eyes can’t move fast enough to get the words to my mind to bring them to life and create the visions… to be the fly on the wall drinking in the unfolding, developing tale until it’s done … skimming the sentences to get them in then forcing myself to slow and savour…wanting it to come to fruition and climax yet so desperately not wanting it to ever end because it’s SO good….
So, enough writing for tonight… I have 70 pages left to read in that book and I can bang that off before I sleep…who needs sleep anyways, when I can dream awake in the pages of my book.