Tuesday, September 22, 2015

hand me a story, i'll hand you my heart

Surrounded by the gem tone hues of aged and worn out textures, I see the faded curtains, the cracked spines, and the ideas I’ll never quite understand. An eternal curiosity for what lies behind the cover page was sparked like an ember coming back to light under the care of a man like Christopher McCandless. The grand doorways to millions of ethereal worlds were opened to an elementary-aged girl with imagination to spare, and from my first Mary-Jane step inside that real-world palace called the county library, I’ve been intrigued and fascinated by the truth we can often only find in books. Leading me into the entryway was my own mother, another soul with a sweet fondness for a glorious story.

I have found that no matter the circumstance - how odd, strange, or weird - the perfect melting pot of characters always seem to find their way to my side, bearing gifts of guidance, knowledge, and understanding. Francie Nolan, cooped up on her fire escape, entangled by the branches of a can’t-kill-me tree, helped me through my first few years of college. Charlie the wallflower made it alright that I, too, found myself sitting back to observe the world, judgment free, while floating infinitely. Mr. Caulfield made the word “grand” seem like blasphemy in my daily language, and has left me searching for my own hunting hat-wearing prep school outcast. Esther Greenwood embraced her darkness as I came to terms with my own. Miles fell in love with Alaska the same way I fell in love with the boy whose mysteries outnumbered the bits of his known self.  The relationship between George Milton and Lennie Small opened my eyes to the heartbreak, emptiness, and impact that friendship can have on a heart. Katniss and Gale showed me that there are others in the world that would go to the depths of Hell and back to protect their siblings and loved ones.

All of these beings helped me find my footing before my life turned into a figurative and literal free fall from the skies. Traveling into my fifth grade classroom with a storyteller teacher so unreal, my true love of words as they’ve combined into pages remained steadfast. As I found myself encompassed by the stories of experience, time, and things previously unknown, I began to mold my future from the characters I met and from the eclectic creatures of my past. It began with a story about a boy who couldn’t do the things he thought, and grew from the meeting of a man who knew that child’s strengths and pains. These stories, both in text and in life, were tucked neatly into the cubbyhole of my ever-growing mind. I kept them in storage until I’d need to make the decision that, to this day, remains my apparent fate.

Years later I found myself adding to the pile of stored-away, humble dreams. When I was in my second year of high school, there was a boy in a book who had a beautiful mind into which he let me. I could understand his logic; the reasons for what he did, and I wanted to help comprehend the thoughts of others like him. When they asked me what studies I wanted to pursue, I remembered the boy who couldn’t move like he wanted to, and the man who knew that boy’s struggles all too well. I also remembered the boy who found true understanding in far and few between, and wanted to be in between for his sake.

These characters have led me to the life I now live, to the adventures that take up my every day. I get to teach the children I only ever read about so many years ago. And when I grow to have children of my own, they will come to know the kind of magic introduced to us by young orphans living under staircases, the kind of faith that four siblings who stumbled through a wardrobe found in the unfailing love of a lion, and the brilliance of a tiny, lovely spider who worked day and night to save a precious friend. They will know of these things, because I know of these things. I know of these things, because the authors have told me stories of them. The authors have told me stories of them, because one day my mother held my tiny hand in hers as she led me through the foyer of a library. A library that I came to know as my palace: the one of pages and possibility.

Until next time,

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