“Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought.” - Arthur Helps
I had forgotten this very specific type of hunger, the kind for reading. For books. It has been a long time since it rose up, making my fingers twitch for the feel of fresh pages. Leading my feet into bookshop after bookshop, just to touch spines and sit, reverently amongst book shelves, like I’m sat in a great cathedral of imagination and possibility, which, I suppose, I am.
I feel like I’m just re-discovering the taste of fresh water after drought. And I am lapping it up greedily. Book after book after book. I am back to the echo of my fourteen year old self, leaning forward over the kitchen counter with novel in one hand and a hastily made sandwich in the other. I am back to eagerly retreating in to the dark sanctuary of my duvet as soon as I am able, back to the dance of turn and twist as my body finds the perfect combination of head on cold pillow, with book supported, flipping to lie on my stomach until the ache of my wrists and neck move me back again.
I had forgotten the intoxication of it. The draw in and IN, words running through eyes and brain like a rich torrent. The slow double -blink as you look up from the page, fantasy worlds overlapping with real life in a disorientating double negative.
And I had forgotten how, at times like THIS, how the inner world of stories and mysteries and romance and impossibility can quickly become more appealing than the real life outside, especially in the times when Kai is in bed and the house is quiet. How much easier, for a while, to take on the personality of somebody else. Their thoughts, their words, when your own seem so confusing and hard to bear.
In books suffering is noble. Pain is beautiful. Lives, however hopeless, have a meaning and a narrative and a progression. People talk one at a time, and their thoughts are written out alongside their spoken words. When something is too harsh, it is softened by metaphor.Time and distance are fluid, with long spaces traversed in an instant. Chapter, page, even gaps between lines and words provide an instant pause button to take a moment to stop and reflect, to rewind and re-read, or to close up that life with a slam of covers and sleep and sleep until you are brave enough to re-open.
Yes. It is no wonder I would rather be a little lost in my books than too awake to reality just now.
So if you are not a book, than forgive my struggle with engaging with you. I am trying. I am hearing your voices, reading your beautiful comments and your messages and it is a little like that slow double-blink again. I am not sure whether I am looking up from the page or down into it, awake or asleep, sat on my sofa or some pale girl in a story book. I’m a little lost in the in-between. But that’s ok. I won’t be here for long and it is, at least, safe and uncomplicated which is what I need just now.
I appreciate you, though. Thank you for your words and your thoughts. Even if I don’t reply they mean a lot. I am glad you are there.
Now. Back to the book. Today I am a clairvoyant battling with the demands of the dead and it sounds a little like being a mother with a toddler.
I’ll see you soon.