I love reading. I always have. In my childhood, I’ve been grounded for reading past my bedtime curfew, hiding flashlights under my pillow and ducking under the covers after the “goodnights” were shared. I’ve been yelled out to go outside and do something in the sun…I’d take a book with me and climb a tree. I was reprimanded for not using the beautiful in-ground pool we had installed…I took books on the rafts and floated in the pool. I’m not fond of small talk and at the various family gatherings I had to attend, I would sneak off to a quiet spot and read. I guess you could say I was addicted.
In my school district, you received a required summer reading list. I always had those read within the first month of the summer and spent the rest of the summer reading whatever I wanted. There were reading challenges, who could read the most pages in a certain time period, I always won. The prize? Books, of course.
The school librarian helped me look up books to read by size, as in, I wanted to reach the largest novels we had on the shelves just because it would take that much longer to get to the last page.
I never got sick of reading. But I did in fact get sick from reading.
In high school, I lived in the “country”, or as country as our area could be defined. It was a 45-minute bus ride from school. I was also in afterschool clubs and usually took the 5:15pm bus getting home by 6. I’d use the long bus ride home to tackle homework…or read.
One day, my afterschool activity was cancelled last minute and I found myself on the 2:15 bus. I don’t recall what book I was reading that particular day, but it was really good. On the way home I had too much time to think about my predicament. I wanted to keep reading, but if I showed up at home this early, I’d be tasked with chores. And my parents didn’t know my afterschool program had been cancelled, they weren’t expecting me till 6. I had 3 free hours!
But I was already on the bus and since I did live so far out of town, I had to get off the bus at my house. Or did I?
Somehow I was able to convince the bus driver to stop 3 doors down from my usual stop. We lived on properties with an acre of trees between the house and the road, you couldn’t see the houses clearly from the street but you could still see if a giant yellow school bus was stopping out front and I didn’t want to get caught.
I then trudged through the woods to my own property where, in that wooded front acre, was an old foundation from a small building that no longer existed. We had used it for hide and seek, or as an imaginary fort, or other strange childhood activities. It wasn’t all that deep, you could scramble in and out easily enough, a depression in the ground surrounded by cement blocks covered in moss.
I settled down into the bottom, lying in the late afternoon sun that slashed through the trees, using my backpack as a pillow, and kept my nose in that book. And I kept reading till it got too dark to read. And here is where my plan was not very well thought out. It was only 5 by then and I wouldn’t be expected home for another hour. But it was dark. And being in the underground hollow, it was getting damp. And cold. But if I emerged and went to the house, I’d have to explain how I was home “early” and I simply didn’t want to have to reveal that I’d actually been home for a full 2 hours now and hiding out so I could read a book.
My stubbornness won. I spent another full hour in my secret cave.
I was freezing and damp by the time I saw the 6pm bus drive by and finally I climbed out and walked across our yard to the house.
I didn’t have to worry about when I would be able to finish that book. I ended up with a good solid head cold that kept me home from school for the two following days.
Readingitis. Reading till you get sick.