I do not have dreams about traveling back in time to hear me speak my first words or to witness the recognition on the faces of my parents (if they were the ones to hear those first words) when they realized they had a genius on their hands.
Why? Because talking came fairly early and easily to me in both English and Yiddish. I was, after all, their first child; whom would they compare me to if not the other first-child geniuses?
I do dream of traveling back to the moment I suddenly got it. When my entire being awoke as if from a coma (G-d forbid) and the power of the written word was revealed to me.
I want to feel that awe again. I want to see the shock of recognition on my face. I want to experience the pride I must have felt. (I am betting pride was not in my vocabulary at that time, but the feeling sure was.)
I want to see the world once more through this new recognition. I want to read and reread those words, honor them, thank them. I want to thank and honor the author of those words who sent me on a lifelong journey through time, space, adventure, happiness, sadness, tears and giggles.
A lifelong love of the word. My love of the characters in the books who became my friends. So many of whom I hated to leave. So many I still miss.
I am a reading addict. Not the worst thing to which a person can become addicted. Gene, my lifelong partner (aka hubby), claims it would have been cheaper if I had been addicted to furs or diamonds. What can I say? It’s not my style.
Furs? Feh, wearing dead animals would freak me out. Diamonds? Hmm, let me consider this one. Oy, did I make a mistake?
Until recently, all my books were on paper. Full disclosure: Until two weeks ago, I had not been in a library since childhood. I could not tell you what my aversion was to borrowing a book from the library. My books had to be new, borrowed from a friend or a relative.
If you laid out all the books in our home in a straight line, they would surround the world. And these don’t even include the hundreds and hundreds of books we have donated.
Ten words I treasured, the 10 words I loved to hear: “Mom, do you have a book for me to read?”
The following is a short story:
One day there was a knock on my door. “Who is it?” I asked sweetly, even though I could see a small, purple talking object standing outside my stained-glass-with-purple-inlay door. The object spoke!
“Shaindle,” it said, “boy, do I have a sussie (surprise) for you?”
“Oh, I love sussies,” I said.
“I come to bring you into the millennial world. Knowing your favorite color is eggplant, I brought you a purple NOOK.”
Looking as if I’d been struck dumb, I could barely get the following words out of my mouth: “I thought a nook was a place you could display small items.”
“No,” it said, “a NOOK is a way of reading books. You will love it. Enjoy.”
End of story.
If you believe this short story, I have an exquisite long bridge to sell you — cheap!
But it is not the end of the story. I do love my Barnes & Noble NOOK, but every now and again I crave the feel of a real book.
When I hunger for the activity of licking the tip of my finger to turn the page, I must give in, and my book pusher, Amazon, quickly delivers. Although I am taking baby steps toward borrowing books from the library, I have not quite made it all the way. It’s a process.
I am proud of my eclectic collection of bookmarks. The bookmark I cherish is the pink velveteen with blingy letters that spell out “Lila,” given to me by Lila, my sweet granddaughter.
I am here today to thank all those writers without whose imagination and clever way with words I would be a listless, bored, unimaginative, uncreative, unhappy girl.