Friday, September 4, 2009

Yes, I Digress: Memories

I’ve always enjoyed a good book. But there are times in my life where I enjoyed them more than others. There are times when books are my saving grace. Sometimes, they are what gets me through the day. One of those times was the summer after I graduated college.

My husband was still in school—madly trying to finish his undergrad so he could study for and take the LSAT that fall and apply for graduate school. And I got a job. I’d graduated with a degree in English and an editing minor, but there just weren’t a lot of editing jobs to go around in our area.

And, before long, I found myself behind a big receptionist’s desk, connecting phone calls, writing up emails, and tracking spreadsheets. It was my temporary fix until my big break came along, and it eventually did, about six months later when I applied for an editing job with an education company off of monster. But, until then, I was stuck. I never felt a deep-seated hatred for my job, but it was monotony on steroids, and some days, I could hardly take the drudgery. +/-

So, I relished that hour-long lunch break every day, and looked forward to it like a kid looks forward to the last day of school. I would drive over to a park a few block away, sit on a shaded bench, and unload my lunchbox. Once I was all set up, I’d pull out my book and read the hour away. It was as if my soul relaxed right into the story—even when it was a sad story. And when that inevitable moment came, as I’d look at my watch and know it was time to pack it in, I felt renewed and able to face the rest of the afternoon with a secret smile in my heart.

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith that summer. It became one of my favorite books, and Francie became one of my favorite characters, the girl who wanted to read the whole library from A to Z. When I think about her, I still can feel the sun on my face, the hot summer wind, the courage she gave me to go on. A lot of characters have joined Francie, and they each bring to my life a certain something—something I can’t quite explain but can’t live without.

As life gets more hectic and I feel the pressure to succeed more acutely than ever before, I sometimes wish I could have that time back, when I would get an hour out of the day to enjoy the brilliant summer sun and a good book and no one could bother me. Nothing could touch me or scare me or make me wish I was anything more.

Now those times have morphed into late-night flashlight affairs, keeping my poor husband from a comfortable sleep, or a weekend at home where I lock myself away and watch my pile dwindle as I devour each book. It’s making me a faster reader, that’s for sure. I’ll take those “lunch hours” wherever I can get them. I can’t afford to lose them now. And like I said, I’ve always enjoyed a good book.

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