The other night as I was going to bed I searched through my stack of reading possibilities only to discover that I had read them all. I’d read all of the interesting (to me) articles in a handful of New Yorkers, I’d looked at all the interesting pictures in National Geographic. I’d even read all of the Sun magazines lying around. The ones I’d saved for rainy days, for years. I’d also read two or three books recently and I was at a loss for what to start next. I looked at the shelf above my bed and realized I didn’t have many unread options. I looked over at the shelf above Seth’s side and quickly turned away. I can barely make sense of the titles of most of the books Seth owns much less even think of getting through the first chapter. I have no real interest in reading The Colonizer and the Colonized or The Mass Psychology of Fascism so I moved on from his shelf and decided to read a cookbook instead.
As I flipped through the pages of the canning in small batches book I got for Christmas, I realized I might have hit a milestone. Could it actually be true that I have time to read? What? When did that happen? Are my children actually old enough that my night hours are not claimed by waking children, hungry children or children in need of a little mama time at 3a.m.? Could it possibly be that I might be able to enter a bookstore and actually purchase a book that I might actually read within the next year. A book without pictures? It was a little earthshattering, this revelation.
There was a time when I didn’t dare borrow a book from the library because I knew I would never finish it by the time it would be due back. There was a time magazines stacked up beside my bed so fast that I would give them away before I had time to finish them. There was a time I considered a New Yorker “read” if I’d read all of the cartoons. It seems, at least for now, that time has passed.
My children love to go to Barnes & Noble. As a huge advocate of local bookstores I cringe a little but Barnes & Noble has a great children’s section and, really, if they are asking to go to a bookstore afterschool, I’m not going to argue about it. So we find ourselves there sometimes and it now has a whole new meaning for me. Row after row of possibility.
A few weeks ago we went to buy Eliza a journal and after choosing the one she wanted we headed back to the children’s section. Lucky for me, the children’s section is right beside the biography section which is where most memoir/narrative nonfiction lands in Barnes & Noble. And that, friends, is my happy place. Every few minutes I’d peek around the corner to make sure Eliza and Lucille were not redecorating the children’s section as I read flap after back cover on all kinds of books. Eventually, the girls had to pull me away.
Somehow this tiny step feels like a big move toward something that is just about me and those are so rare that I’m going to savor it one page at a time.