Occasionally, I'll just reminisce about things...usually in the shower. I love to float back and remember things and people that are important to me and how I grew up.
Today I was thinking about my love of reading and writing...words really. Books have always been a big part of my life. I credit this to my mom who always read to my brother and I. Steve and I would get into our pajamas, cuddle up with our blankets and favorite stuffed animals, while mom pulled out a well worn book.
As much she would try to pull out something new, we insisted on our favorites, which she read dutifully time and time again. We were repeatedly drawn to The Monster at the End of this Book, a story about a panda bear who loved his watercolor paintbox and I had a particular fondness for Cinderella.
My mom still has most of these books, especially Cinderella, which was our personal favorite. It's corners are worn and some of the pages may be bent, but that story is still the same.
Mom read that book so much that I had it memorized very early, much to the chargrin of my mom, who tried unsuccessfully to skip pages so I'd go to bed.
It was from this book that I had my first learning "a-ha" moment, as Oprah would call it. Although my mom had taught me to write words like "cat," "hat," and my name, I still hadn't quite put together the meaning of words and their connection that told a story.
My "a-ha" moment reminds me of that scene in "Miracle Worker" where young Helen Keller puts together the sign for water with actual water. In reality it's a complex idea, something I believe we take advantage of as adults.
The first word that I had that connection with was "room." It was on a page towards the end of the Cinderella book...a page that I really hadn't memorized. I don't remember the situation around my realization...I just remember the light...just like those cartoon light bulbs. But that light started an obsession...I wanted more and sought out words and their meanings everywhere I could.
After that I picked up reading pretty quickly. While many of my classmates were still reading board books, I had graduated onto Little House on the Prairie, which I completed in first grade, even though I didn't really understand the meaning of chapters. I just read each chapter as a seperate story.
In seventh grade, after learning my childhood idol Debbie Gibson would be playing Eponine in Les Miserables, I wanted to read the novel by Victor Hugo. I went to the library and found the heavy volumn and brought it to the checkout desk. However, the librarian wouldn't let me check it out. She said it was too advanced for me...it was a book for college students...not for a girl not even in high school. I took it out anyway. I didn't read it all the way through, but I did fall in love with the story especially Eponine's.
In tenth grade, I took out the book again...this time I read it all the way through...along with my required literature for class. I've read it many, many more times since...and now own the original version, the abridged version and a two-volumn version in French, as well as most versions of the Broadway recordings.
Yes, books and words have been a large part of my life. Reading is a powerful thing...so powerful it can unlock the entire world.