After learning to read, I often checked out books from my classroom library to read later that evening. For me, the written word seemed concrete and real in a way that the spoken word did not. My favorite place to read was next to an old sweetgum tree stump on the school playground. It was in a corner away from where the other children usually played. I found that I could absorb the material in depth whenever I was away from noise and chatter.
However, when children did come nearby - especially if they were rambunctious and noisy - my books would soon become unfamiliar to me. It was as if I were glancing at them for the first time, even the ones I had just been reading. My level of functioning changed for the worse each time this happened. Each time, I would frown as my eyes fell heavily to the ground, and wonder if I would always be this stupid.
My favorite books were about heroes like Robin Hood, not unlike the Robin Hood bed time stories Mom had once told me. I also liked Alexander the Great because he got to travel a lot and study intriguing facial features of the various people he met.
That summer, I went to the public library alone for the first time. After a six-mile bike ride there, I parked my bicycle and walked inside the building. Two silver-haired ladies sat at the front desk on stools. They looked up at me briefly before resuming their spirited conversation about local politics.
I strolled throughout the library. Of all the books there, those that interested me the most were in the reference section. I pulled some statistical manuals off the shelves and obsessed on them the rest of the day. I did not even notice the emptiness of my stomach.
Finally, a librarian came over to my table. "Sonny, we have to close up, so you need to go home now."
On subsequent days, I discovered encyclopedias, dictionaries,- and doctoral dissertations. I never told anyone in my family about my frequent excursions to the library. The library seemed to meet my craving for knowledge, no matter how trivial. I would leave each day gratified. My growling stomach seemed not to even matter as I rode my bicycle home.
Home About Me FAQs Memories History My Faith Ponderings Personality Site Map