"Reading: the Ticket to Where Ever You Want to Go"
Editorial by Christie Stone, media center circulation assistant, Library and Learning Resources Center
I did not grow up an eager reader. I learned to read at the typical age of the times, but I was not engaged. I rarely saw my parents reading. I learned from them to be engaged with my hands and my back and to never shy away from hard work.
My mother was a hard-working, stay at home mom. This was back in the days when the basic chores of housekeeping and raising a family were much more labor intensive. I watched my mother and grandmother struggle with washboards and a wringer washer long after those relics should have been retired. My mother cooked three meals a day from scratch. TV dinners had only just been introduced and were marketed as the great, new timesaver for the modern housewife, but my mother would sooner snatch her hair out than put one on our table. She took homemaking seriously.
My father worked hard also. He scratched out a living as a helicopter pilot, before there was a living to be made in that business, traveling all over the country for peculiar jobs. When he was home, he carved out an oasis in our bare dirt yard putting in walkways, fences, a fishpond and a playground. He and my mother worked side by side planting trees and grass. When they were not working, however, or whenever they had the opportunity, they took to the highway. They loved to travel. Lock the doors, load the kids in the car (they never went without us) and leave all your troubles behind.
Many of my earliest and fondest memories are of weekend trips and holidays spent in the hill country of Texas at an uncle's ranch. It was a far cry from life in the big city of Dallas. It felt like make-believe-for-real. We made other family trips to accompany my father when his work took him away: from Mineral Wells to Abilene, Texas, and once, all the way to the Minnesota State Fair. It was a long trip for young children in an old Buick. I remember only glimpses of a big top tent, my father's acrobatic passengers and a dancing bear, which I dreamed of for months after. We never missed a summer vacation during grade school and middle school and, by the time I graduated from high school, I was fully infected with the travel bug and a veteran of the road.
Now, old enough to strike out on our own, my sister and I moved to Austin- ostensibly to go to school, which we did- the first in the family to attend the University. Unfortunately, I made a poor show of my debut, bothered as I was by the infernal itch to leave town. For four years we worked our way through the fall and spring semesters. When classes were over, we would load the Datsun with camping gear and dried food and go as far as our savings would take us. The destination was always Colorado, but more than once, we ending up in California after we tired of the altitude and the cold nights.
Married life took me even further. My husband and I moved from Austin to Georgia, to Germany and back. We ultimately wound up in the Pacific Northwest. I loved the impermanence of moving from place to place. The only thing I loved more was the solidarity of family and it was family that brought me full circle. I moved back to Dallas to be with my parents when my father's health began to fail. The inevitability of becoming an orphaned adult entered my psyche like a head-on collision. It stopped me in my tracks.
One of the truest things I know is this: The end of something marks the beginning of something else.
My vagabond days were over. It was time to lay down roots- a slow process, as any plant will tell you, if you pay attention. It requires patience- a virtue I'd never sown, but which I now discovered and cultivated in abundance, hoping against all reason that time would be patient also, in its passing. I discovered something else. In this newfound stillness, I could scratch the urge to move by reading.
I have never taken a cheaper trip to a richer place than a trip to the library. Sitting by my father's bed, I could travel the world over, backwards and forwards in time. I found passages on pages, as beautiful as any view from a scenic outlook that took my breath away. And, oh, the people I could meet between the covers! But, forgive me. I know I am preaching to the choir, at this point in my story, and I will not go on pretending to inform you of the marvels of reading. I will, however, leave you with this footnote.
I did eventually return to school as an engaged reader, and I know it will come as no surprise when I tell you, this time, I'm sure I made my parents proud.
Reading: the App for Life.