I signed up for the queue on several books at the library, thinking it would take a few weeks to eventually get my turn. As luck would have it, most of my reservations came in around the same time, and within a few days I had a pile of books and a tight deadline to read them, as I couldn’t renew some of the loans.

It reminded me of summer breaks when studying at the university, and being creative and unnecessarily helpful at the library to get the librarians to lend me more books and for a longer time than the system allowed. They let me do it. Finally, I could binge-read as if my life depended on it. And in a way, it did.

For years, I depended on books as an escape from the knot that was my head at the moment (some improvement’s been made, baby steps). Reading about someone else’s real or imagined life gave me the chance to try different ways to navigate the world. I wanted to live inside the books, under their rules, in their worlds and with their possibilities. For years it was as if home were always somewhere between the pages, so I wandered through them, looking for that place, feeling ever more lost once the story was over.

As I work my way through this pile of books, I’m reminded of that feeling of being an empty pot where you try different contents. I realize my head isn’t the same pot it was before. It’s inhabited by things and experiences I’ve collected from lives previously lived through books and in flesh. They act as guardians that help me filter the bits and pieces which can’t be used for navigating the world I’m currently in. It’s comforting, knowing that I’ve changed in that way. It makes me feel less empty and anxious, less confused. Maybe changed is not so much the word as solidified.

I go back to the books and try on another life. Only this time it feels more like a journey and less like a destination. I know that once the pages are over, it’ll be safe to go back. I do have a home within myself.

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