I have a confession to make: I need an escape.
This I tell myself as I pick up a book in the fiction section of an empty bookstore.
A hardbound—which means I’ll be eating another burger for dinner just to buy a book in its double-the-price version. Not that I mind eating fast food for the fourth time in a week; My body does, I don’t. Hold still body, I just can’t say no to my favorite author.
I was five the first time I went here, looking up at the high-stacked bookshelves as if they were buildings. One visit turned two, two became three, four, so on. It almost became a day job at one point. My parents would leave me here as they do their grocery, watch a movie, or just about anything aside from babysitting their child (Wise move, folks. I’m impressed.) Then there’s me who had one job: to stay. But thanks to them for finding an escape, I found mine too.
Reading became my saving grace. It toured me into dimensions I never knew existed. It sent me to the days outside of what I consider normal. It let me in someone else’s mind with an effortless turn of my fingers. I never stopped, not even now.
I read when I want to kill time. I read when I get stressed. I read when I’m angry. I read as my mom shouts at me for skipping meals and choosing books. I read in an attempt to slip away from the monotony of existence. I read.
“No paperback?”, I ask the lady whose job I’d gladly take in hopes of smelling books on a daily basis.
“New arrival. Better get it while you can.”
Afraid that I wouldn’t get it while I can, I grab it. Carefully. Just like how I grab the thoughts found or hidden between every line of a page.
I think that’s a beautiful byproduct of reading.
It offers a portal to thousands of viewpoints apart from mine while somehow telling me, “Hey sweetheart, you don’t need to believe everything that you learn.” For once, it expects me to be open-minded while challenging me if I should stand firm to my choices. It teaches me so much to learn that ideas should be shared but only teaches me so much to learn that not all ideas should be swallowed; some I need to develop, reject, or inject into my system.
Now a bit of throwback: How many times do I crumple my forehead whenever I read? Too many, that I’m sure of. The next thing I know, I’m having my 2AM thoughts—an (arguably) beautiful side effect of reading.
Then I realize I’m not thinking about worrying anymore, or my pending laundry chores, or the loud and cruel and chaotic life for that matter. I’m thinking about the endless ideas this crazy world can offer and how I can use some to make it a little less crazy.
I cringe at the sound of the cash register, a chunk of my allowance gone. Now I’m back to my usual routine. It’s simple really: after getting my hands on the book, I go to the nearest coffee shop and order the usual overpriced Americano—I guess the fast-food challenge is extended until tomorrow.
Almost without thinking, I start reading.
This I say is my hardbound escape.