The urban legend of my childhood, which includes some vague memories, some of which I only remember because others have told the story repeatedly, includes my early interest in reading at age 3 or 4. As one part of that story goes, I had a Golden Book about Pluto Pup getting lost and Mickey and Goofy driving around looking for him, along with some of the other Mickey Mouse gang. I actually remember the pictures and some of the dialogue, which I will not bore anyone with. Apparently, I insisted, like many other children, that the book be read, over, and over, and over again. If my mother skipped a word, I admonished her and she had to go back until I was satisfied. I followed the words with my fingers and developed an early skill in identifying words. Then, as the story goes, I began to “read” the book to her, repeatedly, every day and multiple times. My mother, in an attempt not to be driven insane by my demands, devised a means by which I could read about Pluto Pup, et al., to my heart’s content. She would vacuum (which was not on her fun things to do list) and I would read. Another case of creative parenting, I think.
My love affair of books continued and one of my best memories was being able to pick out books at the library and take them home. Getting my own card was equivalent to having a platinum American Express card at age 6. It was divine. The children’s library was two blocks away from our apartment and although I was too young to walk there on my own, I was allowed as time went on, to be there under the supervision of the librarians who got to know me very well. The children’s library was upstairs and I made a decision when I had this autonomy, to read every book, in a very organized fashion, starting with the “A”s and continuing on. I went on Friday afternoons after school until 5 p.m. when it closed. It was the closest thing to nirvana I think a 6 or 7 year old could imagine. I actually imagined it was my library alone. An illustration of that narcissistic revelation came to light when I asked for the key to the bathroom and proceeded, before the librarian was able to stop me, to walk into the boys’ room because it had a big B on it and I presumed, it stood for Barbara. Once I was inside (it was a one person bathroom), seeing a urinal and somehow knowing that that was not for my use, shocked me back into reality. I quickly left and returned the key to the librarian who just smiled and pointed me toward the correct door. By the time I was 12, I could get an adult card and I had gotten as far as the letter “N” in the books. The librarians always let me know if there was something new on the shelves so I wouldn’t miss any of the books.
The flame that fans my romance has never flickered in many, many years. The library continues to be a place that is filled with treats and treasures. It is with incredible anticipation that I now order books on line and wait anxiously to find out that they are ready. I have to say, the feeling rivals and exceeds my love of new shoes. The return policy for books to the library, is far easier and less painful than returning anything on Amazon. I have managed to join with technology and allow my passion to grow and flourish. Reading has filled many voids and quiet times and allows me to revisit the most beautiful and impactful of words and thoughts of others and has sustained me. Well, I have to go now, one of my books is waiting for me.