June Renew: Day Twenty-One
I was never that good of a reader. I read a lot of books as a kid, but it wasn’t ever really my choice. My mom encouraged me to do it. She’d read to me every night when I was younger. I enjoyed that and the stories that came along with it, but it’s like I never wanted to do it for myself. I also found it difficult to retain things. I’d have to read over a paragraph multiple times before even grasping what it said. That didn’t help me much in school when we’d read books I had no interest in and was expected to analyze themes and motifs that all went over my head. Still, I know I should read more. How can I expect to tell my story if I don’t see how others are being told?
Doesn’t stop me, though. I’m plugging along with my tale regardless as a steady stream of books slowly enters my home. I bought a few, took a few from my parents’ house; They’ve got so many of their own. I wish I could just kick back and begin reading, but it proves difficult for me. Perhaps I haven’t found a comfortable-enough spot to do so yet, but I’d like to keep trying, even if what I’m reading isn’t always works of fiction.
I’ve come to a point in my story where the main character is getting ready to flee and is deciding what to take with her. I thought of having her bring along the only book in her home, something she read once long ago and hadn’t picked up since. I stopped writing and went to my own bookshelf and pulled what I consider my favorite book off the shelf. Something I hadn’t read in years but remember the feeling of falling in love with it clear as day.
I wasn’t even sure I still had it, but it was there. In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien. Penguin Publishing. 1994. Lots of connections laid bare as I ran my hand across the cover, the book not quite worn out but still rather worn in. I could barely remember the plot, and only a single phrase topped the back cover, above a smattering of reviews. “What happens to a marriage when the darkest secrets of your past find their way into the present?” I can’t tell you all the things that went through my head as I read it, but I laid it down on the counter amidst my six new books, wondering if perhaps I should pick it up again to see what it was that was once so special to me.
I had a thought that maybe what lay between the pages would seem weird and terrible, and what I once fell in love with was simply not a reflection of me. But as I read the first five chapters (they are short) today in Columbus Circle, I understood once more. It’s a simple book but sets the tone I’m searching for too. I’m beginning to remember. I want to keep going. And I would have, but being outside in NYC is scary lately. Sad, but true.
It’s all about spaces for me with reading. Being in the right headspace to begin and tackle what seems like an overwhelming amount of pages, while finding the right spot to feel comfortable enough to read. Only by cracking open a new book will I be able to unlock the story I’m trying to get out too. There’s millions out there to choose from with trillions of words to pour through. Perhaps one day, if I really put my mind to it, my words can find their way to the shelf as well.
I’ll let you know how In the Lake of the Woods pans out.