My Late Night Literary Romance

I have always loved reading.  I was that kid, you know?  That kid who was NEVER not reading.  My mother would have to chase me outdoors to get me to play outside with friends.  I LIVED in books.  I ADORED books.  I was, am, and always will be a reader.

PARADISE.

 

Those of you who have been to college can sympathize with me when I say that I didn’t get to do a whole lot of pleasure reading during my undergrad.  My degree required reading of its own.  LOTS of reading, usually long, tedious, technical reading, which I was supposed to substantively reflect upon and crank out review papers for.  I enjoyed a lot of it, but it was a different kind of enjoyment–the kind of enjoyment that you sometimes hate.  When I wasn’t up to my elbows in homework, I had a job, a boyfriend/eventual fiance/husband, friends, church involvements, drama ministry, and I think I had to eat somewhere in there too.  College is an insanely busy time of life, and I knew I’d have to put my pleasure reading mostly on hold for a few years while I got that whole “life” thing sorted out.

Of course, I could not have anticipated how my final year of college would turn out.  I got married a month before school started, and was learning the whole “having a husband” part of life.  I graduated a semester early.  One month after that, I found out we would soon be having our first child.  I won an award guaranteeing me an almost completely free first year of graduate studies–studies which would begin that summer.  I was accepted for a job as a T.A.  Fresh out of college, I had about a thousand different forms of “real life” hitting me in the face at once: starting a family, preparing for graduate work, figuring out post-undergrad life and finances with my husband. . . it got busy.  Really busy.  Once again, pleasure reading just sort of had to wait.

I’m sorry, picturesque library with awesome shelf ladder! I’ll be back for you!

Those of you who are mothers and/or grad students know what has happened since then: namely, baby and graduate studies.  Exhaustion.  Late nights.  Crying.  Oh, and the baby sometimes cried, too.  Even more reading, the kind that I sometimes loved and sometimes hated but always HAD to read rather than WANTED to read.

And so it came to pass that I could scarcely remember the last time I actually sat down and read a book just for myself, just for fun.  And it broke my heart.

You see, there are very limited times when I can actually devote the time to reading any more.  Oh sure, I have plenty of “down time” during the day when my son decides to be agreeable, but I can’t read during those times.  I am not one of those people who can read and simultaneously pay attention to things like my child’s well-being.  I don’t so much read books as I disappear into them for hours on end and only come up for air when I realize I need to eat or I’m about to collapse from sleep deprivation.  When my son is up, I have to do low-investment activities, like light homework reading or internet things, so that I can drop them at any time to spend time with my son if he needs or wants me.

This, of course, leaves the evening and naptimes open for high-investment activities.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of those, too.  Heavier homework reading.  Paper writing.  Work for the church where I am a part-time associate.  Spending time with my husband, who does actually enjoy doing more with me than just staring at me while I finish my latest assignment.  Devotions.  The list goes on and on, and doesn’t leave a lot of space for me to vanish into a book for several hours like I used to.

That is, until last night.

The snow wasn’t awful, but it was coming down hard enough in my neighborhood that I questioned the sanity of driving to class.  It isn’t far.  I probably could have made it.  But the nice winter preparation folks in my town don’t actually plow the roads immediately surrounding my house–the ones with things like long, swervy S-curves and sharp turns.  If I had made it to the main road, it would have been a cakewalk.  I’m a bad enough driver, though, that I questioned whether getting to that main road would be worth all of the fear that I would be dealing with until that point.  I decided it wasn’t, sent an e-mail to my professor, and proceeded to make dinner for my family at a more leisurely pace than usual, knowing that I wasn’t going anywhere.

After dinner, my son went to bed and my husband drifted into a work exhaustion coma on the floor.  I poked around on the computer for a little while, finishing some outlines and checking blogs and then suddenly, it hit me.

I have nowhere to be and nothing to do for the rest of the night.

I glanced down at my husband.  Completely asleep.  Our son wasn’t making any noise.  My homework was done.  I couldn’t really do any more studying until I got to a library, which wasn’t going to happen tonight anyway.  Oh, I could probably do some much-needed cleaning, but in that moment, I realized that I finally had time to read.  I could pick up a book and enjoy it tonight with absolutely no long-term consequences.  There was even a book on the shelf that I had been dying to try, the last in a series that my husband had finished ages ago and had dutifully refrained from spoiling for me.

I crept over to the shelf, softly, so as not to disturb my husband.  I gently removed the book from the shelf, as though I were doing something rebellious or dangerous.  I returned to my seat, cracked open my treasure, and spent the next three hours in a world of dragons, magic, epic battles, and adventure.

If you see this look in my eyes, it means that anything you are saying to me is completely lost beneath the deafening noise of my imagination.

I plowed through 242 pages in three hours, and enjoyed every second of it.  I didn’t get to stay up into the wee hours of the morning like I did when I was young, because I do still have responsibilities and such in the daytime.  But for one night, one wonderful night, I got to return to my love.  I got to read.  And whatever it takes, I resolve not to lose that love again.  I may not be able to enjoy a good book every night, but I can set aside time more regularly to do what I love.  I’ll be better for it.  I’ll be more energized for my everyday tasks if I do this simple thing.

Look out, books–I’m coming home.

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One Response to My Late Night Literary Romance

  1. mom says:

    why is it that everything you write makes me weepy? Glad you found time for reading! I sometimes steal an hour in the morning if I wake up earlier than Nate and the dog.

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