Do you ever think about how terrible it would be not to know how to read? I mean, maybe you don't think about it all. Maybe you're one of those people who only reads magazines IF THAT and you don't understand why a person would check out 15 books from the library when she knows there's no way she can read that many books in two weeks or why she'd go to a used book sale and buy two giant paper bags worth of books even though she has absolutely no more bookshelves in her house NOT THAT I'M SPEAKING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OR ANYTHING THIS IS ALL HYPOTHETICAL.
What was I talking about? Oh, right, reading. What if you didn't know how to read? You wouldn't be reading this, for one thing. You probably wouldn't even be on the internet, because the internet is so full of words.
(Oh wait, never mind, the internet is also full of porn and cat pictures. Go about your business, you non-reader, you.)
Say you couldn't read and I typed something like this: Hector the pink elephant was tightrope-walking with Kurt Vonnegut's ghost (who was wearing a tutu because he discovered in his afterlife that he really wanted to be a ballerina) when a 200 pound bee flew in and stung them FIVE TIMES and they both fell off the tightrope but it didn't matter because Hector landed on a giant trampoline and Kurt Vonnegut is a ghost REMEMBER and falling really far doesn't hurt ghosts, no, in fact, THEY LOVE IT and they do it for fun all the time. It's true. Ask any ghost. I'll wait.
YOU WOULD HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT. Aren't you glad you can read? Yes, obviously, you are, OMG do I have to do all the thinking around here?
My grandma used to read all the time before she started having memory problems and then she mostly stopped because she couldn't remember anything she'd read the time before. A lot of things about my grandma's situation made me really sad, on a daily basis, but that was a total gut-punch because who would anticipate that? I'm not trying to get all dark and depressing, not at all, but it was something I'd never considered before it happened to my grandma. That you'd lose that ability. No more flying around with Harry Potter, no daily walks with Elizabeth Bennet or cocktails with Bridget Jones or saving books with Guy Montag, just NOTHING BUT REAL LIFE. And real life is the worst, even if you aren't suffering from dementia, able to remember events from twenty years ago but unable to figure out what happened in the last twenty minutes.
My grandma has been on my mind a lot lately, probably because of all the Christmas music, but I often think of her when I'm reading, about how I might not love books as much as I do if she and my parents hadn't encouraged me to read, hadn't gotten me all the books I wanted, hadn't so often left me alone to just BE with my books. Most days, when I get home from work, I change into pajamas and plop down in what's become my favorite room of the house. We call it the library (because it's where the books live) but my sister calls it The Quiet Room because there's no TV in there, which she thinks is weird. But it is quiet and the afternoon sunlight streams in and I can stretch out on the couch, facing the window, with a book in my hands and a dog in my lap and, once Joe gets home, it's the happiest part of my day.
So, anyway. Have you hugged your books today?