Shortly before my birthday, I stumbled across a wind chime. I fell in love with the sound of my one-armed angel chime, and I knew I had to have her. Then, moments later, I found a rainbow colored chime and I loved that, too.
I knew I couldn’t buy both, so I left the rainbows and brought home the angel.
A few weeks later, my mother surprised me with the rainbow chime. She’s an angel.
Now I have the angel in front of my house and the rainbow in back. Last night, upon getting home from work, I noticed flickering lights coming from my family room. I stepped in there, wondering, and found the most amazing sight. The rainbow chime was hanging in the sun and light was reflecting off it, sending out rainbow colored hearts all over the room, and my backyard.
This is the chime itself. If you look in at the wall, you will see a few of the little hearts that were being reflected everywhere.
That’s just the reflections. I know it doesn’t look like much, but there was a slight breeze last night and so the chime was in constant movement…and so were the hearts. They were swirling and twisting and flying all over the place. They moved so quickly it was difficult to capture them on “film”. This was the best I could do.
In reality, there were hundreds of colored hearts shimmying all over my backyard. It was like being inside of a dancing rainbow. I was enchanted.
I knew, immediately, what I had to do.
I had a new book that I had been waiting to read and I had finally found the perfect time and place. I grabbed the book and sat down in a lawn chair and started to read. Every few moments or so, a colored heart would lightly land on the page and then be gone, before I could even really look at it.
When it comes to reading, sometimes I think I’m a little strange. Reading is like an obsession with me. That is, of course, if I like the book. I discovered after many years of being a reader, that finishing a book I don’t like, just because I started it, is ridiculous. There are more books in the world than I could ever read. Why would I waste my time on the ones I don’t like? Once I decided that, my life became immensely more pleasurable.
However, since I was a little girl, reading absorbs me. I don’t know how to say it better than that. When I read something I enjoy, it consumes me. I will forgo food, water, sleep, anything, to finish the book. If I start a book I am really enjoying, chances are good I won’t be stopping until I finish the book. Very few people understand this, most people, it would seem, have the ability to stop halfway through a book and pick up with their lives.
I’m not one of them. It has gotten to the point that I often don’t start a book I think I am going to enjoy until I know I have the time to finish it. I do not read in the morning before work. (Even before Hamline, which I don’t start until noon).
Reading does not put me to sleep. I never understand people who say that they fall asleep reading in their beds. I can’t. I have spend many a night reading until the dawn because I foolishly opened a book at midnight, in those moments between lying down and drowsiness.
When I am reading something I enjoy, I read until the book is done, almost without exception.
Last night, for example.
I was reading a book called “Two Kisses for Maddy” which is the true story of a man who lost his wife only hours after their baby daughter was born. I don’t read non-fiction, hardly ever. It isn’t my thing. However, I read this man’s blog and have been familiar with the story and was curious to read the book. (and, to deviate from my story, the book is incredible. I don’t know these people but it was one of the best, most moving stories, I’ve read in a very long time. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this book.)
I sat down shortly after 6 pm. I was dressed in my work clothes. It was warm and sunny with a slight breeze. As I read, time passed, the air cooled, the sun started its descent. I had to pee. I was so hungry (I ate lunch at 11 am, so I was already really hungry by the time I got home at 6). I was in an uncomfortable chair. I was in short sleeves.
Still, I read. The book was making me cry, no surprise there, but I had no tissue, and no way to get any without stopping the book. So, I used the collar of my shirt to wipe away my tears. The longer I sat, my back started to hurt. This is not a comfortable chair. I was shivering, goosebumps everywhere, because 55 degrees and breezy is not good for reading in shirtsleeves. I was crying so much I started getting a headache. Or maybe that was because I hadn’t eaten in about 8 hours. I couldn’t stop. I kept reading. And reading.
Eventually, the sun was going down and I was still outside, reading this book. Shortly before 8:30 I had to stop. I noticed that at every paragraph I was angling the book in bizarre directions, trying to catch what few remaining rays of light I could. It was practically too dark to see and I was still reading. Finally, the lack of light forced me inside.
You would think that this interruption would cause me to take a break, use the bathroom, grab a sweatshirt, get some food. Whatever. Nope, not me. I flipped on the light in my family room and dropped onto the floor. Yes, the floor. There is only one chair in that room and it had stuff on it. It seemed easier to sit on the floor.
And I kept reading.
Just after 9pm, or three hours after I began, I closed the cover on this amazing book.
As I started to stand, my left leg was asleep. My right leg had a pain from the awkward places I’d been sitting. My back hurt. My head hurt. I was starving…my stomach was actually growling. My nose was stuffy and my eyes were puffy from crying. I really had to pee. And I felt great. There is a satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, that I get from finishing a book. Aside from that, completing a book I enjoy makes me feel heartwarm and happy.
I limped up the stairs to my living space, and tried to decide what to do first. As the feeling started coming back to my left leg, I began thinking about what I had just done. The uncomfortable hours I spent determined to finish this book. My warm and comfortable couch was mere feet from where I read. So was my warm and comfortable bed.
I could have read while cooking dinner and eaten at the table with my book.
I could have taken a few seconds to pee and maybe grab a couple Kleenex while I was in there.
I could have done a lot of things differently, but that isn’t how I am. The physical nature of things was not important to me, it never is. The only thing that is important is being inside that book and finding out what comes next. I was off in another place, another time, with different people, getting a glimpse into their lives. During those three hours, I wasn’t here, I wasn’t uncomfortable, I wasn’t cold and hungry. I was pretty far away from reality’s threshold.
I know this seems crazy to many people. But it is just the way I am with books. This is the way I have always been. I can read in crazy uncomfortable places, I can read in a moving car, I can read in public, I can read while the television is on, I could read during the middle of the Superbowl if I were actually at the game, when I read, I am not there. I am gone, somewhere else into the world created by the author and my world doesn’t exist for me.
More often than not, this is how I read a book. Unable to stop unless I’ve finished it, ignoring the world around me. It is rare that I will stop and start a book, the way most people do. Honestly, if I have been reading a book for a few days or more, it is likely I won’t be finishing it. Because, truly, if I really liked it, it would have been finished already.
I don’t know how I got this way, or why. I just know that this is who I am. This is the way that I read. It isn’t a hobby with me, just something I like to do. It is an obsession, a passion, a way of life.
People might say they love to read. For me? If reading was a person, I’d have been long ago locked up as its crazy stalker. Yeah, that about sums it up.
And looking back on the title of this post, I suddenly thought, Reading Rainbow! Maybe they were on to something.