I love being at home. I enjoy the morning time, sipping coffee, checking e-mails, stretching out the wrinkles a good night’s sleep has left me. But I’d be lying most grievously if I didn’t admit that being alone without anyone to say so much as a hello to — save the fur-children — doesn’t leave me lonely once in a while. When I’m writing, steadily, I hardly notice the lack of spoken words. For inside things are very noisy indeed; a tug of war between characters, voices raised or lowered, hims and hers demanding I pay them attention. But times like these, quiet times, when I’m caught in the undertow, I notice. I notice everything. Today I noticed, though not for the first time, how I read.
I read slowly. I don’t have to, but I choose to because I don’t read for numerical achievement, but for immersion. I come before a book the same way I once came before the sea and my God, to be baptized in a glory not my own. Books contain oxygen. You can breathe them or spit them out. I am quick to euthanize a book I am not enjoying. There’s been too much good stuff written for me to spend my time reading what wasn’t. For a good book I’ll go the extra hundred miles. I will look up its every foreign word. I will teach myself to pronounce names that don’t read phonetically. I will make certain that I understand what I’m reading before moving on to the next page. If this means I have to put the book down and move to the computer, so be it.
Today I learned about gables. I typed the word G A B L E into Dictionary.com and yielded this: “the portion of the front or side of a building enclosed by or masking the end of a pitched roof.” And when that read like Greek I jogged over to Google images and searched until I found a picture. All in all it took me about 6 minutes before I fully understood a gable’s function and where I might find one were I looking for it. Is this strange? Am I the only who does this? Feel free to say “Cara, my friend, there there, we’ll make sure to find you a warm room with a lovely view of the lawn.”
I also noticed I am a savorer. If a line or passage strikes me as true and sharp, a flawless diamond mounted in rubble, I will read and reread until words morph into music, thereby easier to trap, easier to match the rhythm with that of my own heart’s beat. I must, or be driven to madness, consume the words, be absorbed, for only then can I secrete its beauty. I cannot go on to the next page, line, letter. Not until I know. I must know.
For me, reading is a lot like coloring. A book enters my hands bearing the detail of shape and structure, but it’s flat, like a wall or the ground. If I ran my hand over it, there would be no bumps, no hollows or secret passage ways, grooveless. It is my responsibility to give every word a color, every move a sound. I decide if the starry sky is black or purple, if the leaves on the tree are mint-green or kermit-green, or maybe not even green at all, but almost blue because of the time of day and the way the sun is hitting them. It’s not my design, no, but it is mine. And only when I make it mine does it become three dimensional, a living, breathing, effectual thing. The writer is the dream, but I the reader am the sleep.
So, anyway, these are strange musings, but I was curious today. How do you read? What does it look like for you?