Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sitting By My Window Reading: Urbandale 1973

This was in the summer. This was when I shared an upstairs room with my brothers. Not all of my brothers, but at least some of them. This was when I had a bed next to the lower window in the first room down the hall, the upstairs being the first floor, not the basement, in our one story house. This was when we did not use air-conditioning. I grew up without A/C.
What I recall, is that in the summer I sat in bed reading a book. I'd gotten the book at the Urbandale Public Library--Mother was a big reader and I'd gone with her to the library and randomly looked around in the Young Adult section and picked out books. I had this novel that was set in Russia and was about Cossacks and Tartars and such and I was very involved in it. And I was reading it one lazy summer afternoon by the window in my bed, the window wide open against the hot Iowa day and outside in the street kids were playing. I knew the kids that were yelling and running and scuffling through some game out there, and as I heard them and watched them I thought that I should join them. I was an active person, I liked games and sports and running around. Yet, I really liked the book I was reading.
It was a warm summer Iowa afternoon yet I was inside reading by the open window. I should be out there with my neighborhood peers . . . But, no. I wanted to read my book. I loved reading that book. So, I stayed inside, consciously relishing the air from the window, the sounds of kids playing in my absence while I read my library book set in the old Russia of cossacks and czars. I realized that I liked the excitement in my head--from the book--as much as the excitement of reality, at least for that moment. The world of my imagination was more important.
It's not as though I became a bookworm from then on, but I think I still remember that otherwise mundane instance because I realized that I had something else, something small (or big, depending how you feel about books) and private and that there was a value in pursuing it. I'd always liked reading, writing, but until that day by the window in the summer I don't think I realized how much it meant to me.

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