4/6/09

$19.99 and Feeling Fine

I have always had an affinity for literature. I recall conducting conversations about the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in the fifth grade. By the time I graduated from high school I had successfully devoured every novel ever published by Stephen King. I swoon at Shakespeare, harbor a secret crush on Fyodor Dostoevsky, and if reincarnated, would come back as a cross between Heidi Klum and Toni Morrison. So, it was no surprise I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature. That my dusty old resume includes stints at a newspaper and classroom teaching.
When I turned 27, I spearheaded a book exchange. Voraciously discussing the latest best sellers, delving into my collection of novels for a second (or third) read, I prided myself on my literary background. And then, with the arrival of my second child, my ahem, 3o-somethingth-blahem-ugh birthday, and the happy chaos of life in a family, I completely forgot how to read.
The truth is, my intentions were still good, my love for literature still compelled me to drag home stacks of novels and carefully pile them up beside my bed. I even carried novels with me on the carpool, strategically positioning them between the wipes and the raisins in my purse. But when push came to shove, I found that my reach only extended as far as a fashion magazine or the headlines of the newspaper. Evening reads were limited to 32 page picture books like "Spot Goes to The Zoo" and "Goodnight Moon". When challenging literature stood before me, my heart said yes but my brain said no. And the books beside my bed became just another thing to dust on cleaning day.
Last week, I found myself standing in line at the Rite Aid Pharmacy staring down the lumpy backside of a colorfully dressed senior citizen ahead of me. And when she turned to investigate me, I furtively glanced away...and zeroed in on a display of magnifying glasses. The same magnifying glasses that had been there every other time I had stood in this line....nearly every month (it seemed) for the past few years. But this time was different, this time I actually SAW the magnifying glasses. This time, unlike all the times before, I had morphed into an apt consumer. Like a doomed moth drawn into the brightness of a light, I found myself shuffling out of the check-out line and into shopping range of the plastic reading glasses where the display's picture, a white haired woman in bright purple glasses (a bit fairy god-motherish) smiled down on me in all-knowing smirk.
$19.99 in Green/Ebony is all it took to rekindle the embers of my literary fire. I have finally finished Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (which agonizingly took me several months to climb to the end, and just a few hours to summit those final chapters). And already, I am halfway through Elizabeth Gilbert's "eat, pray, love" (fabulous so far) and simultaneously introduced to the first few chapters of David Sedaris' "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" (not sure about it). I even have another book on hold at the library, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle..." by Barbara Kingsolver.
It's as though I've been starving my literary soul for years, and suddenly I can see the gourmet feast before me! I am ravenous, I am malnourished, I am a hungry beast on a mission to replenish my reserves. Bring on the books!!!! I once was blind but now I can see!!!!

1 comment:

JO said...

I have "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" on hold too...but I have to pay a fine before I pick my copy up, so you will probably get it first!