Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Scribbling

The prompt: Real Life

It began on the rooftop patio of an Omaha apartment building on a late spring afternoon. Before there was the threat of skin cancer, before mothers were drilled to slather their children with sunscreen before exposing one inch of their perfect skin to the hazards of the sun, a young mother decided to take a break from the demands of the day and enjoy the warm sunshine with her three year old daughter and her 19 year old sister-in-law. In her brown and cream one piece swimsuit she carried the essentials for the afternoon up the steps to the rooftop patio. New lawn chairs with white and green plastic woven straps, towels, Jackie-O sunglasses and a bag full of treasures.

I followed my mom up the stairs with my skinny, three-year-old legs with my auntie behind me. Once at the top, the two young women searched for the optimal sunning spot to work on their tans. Once found, they started to set up “house”, or so my little three year old brain thought. Three chairs were set up – two adult sized and one in miniature for me. Settling in, my mom pulled out a stack of Harlequin romance novels for she and my auntie. I’ll never forget the feeling of pride and belonging as I pulled from my little tote bag a stack of Golden Books. I spent the afternoon with the two most beautiful women in the world to me, looking at page after page in the colorful story books as they read their romances in the afternoon sunshine. I felt so grown-up to be sharing this special treasured time with them. It was when real life began for me – one of my first memories and the day I knew I couldn’t wait to learn how to read.

Since then, real life has been filled with joys and heartaches, happy and sad times, love and loss. Real life has been boring and thrilling, a toil and a treasure. Real life now is carpools, car payments, housework and house payments. It’s sitting in the freezing rain in November during my kid’s soccer game and cleaning the mud from the cleats for an hour after the game. It’s also seeing the joy on my son’s face when he scores a goal or the pride on my daughter’s when she makes a great save. It’s kissing my sweetheart good-bye in the morning and being home to kiss him hello when he comes home. But real life for me is also in the pages of my favorite books.

In my real life I have followed a family west from a Little House in the Big Woods to the banks of Plum Creek and beyond. I held the heavy metal of an ornate key that opened the gate to a Secret Garden. I watched the miracle of a grace through a teacher who cared enough about a student to make her work at her studies, despite her disabilities, challenging her to an education that included college. My real life included time traveling and solving mysteries with multiple groups of friends and associates. In my real life as a teenager, I was scared silly by a car named Christine and to this day can’t put my hands near a garbage disposal (thank you very much Mr. King!). I was asked to countless proms and had multiple makeovers in which each brought out the best of my features so that the cutest guy in school could see that in addition to being a total babe, I had a great personality and he couldn’t help but fall in love with me. In college, it was Mr. Whitman’s introspection, Mr. Shakespeare’s brilliance and Mr. Chaucer’s insight into humanity that sharpened the colors of my real life. Ms. Austin, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence and even Christina the Astonishing all added to the days of my real life. In my real life I have run from assassins through the streets of Rome, solved mysteries in the English countryside, delivered sheep in the Yorkshire dales and shopped tag sales with my friend Sophie in the garment district of Manhattan. I have found sympathy for the Wicked witch of the east and traveled to the jungles of Burma in the past few months. Right now, my real life is sprinkled with the dust of Italy’s ancient structures being destroyed as Jews and their Catholic sympathizers hang on by a Thread of Grace.

There is no end to my real life. It is filled with joys and heartaches, happy and sad times, love and loss. And in all things, my real life is made complete as I continue to use my love of the word to study who I am in the sight of my Creator. For me – real life is the written word and the joy it brings to my soul.


chest of drawers said...

That´s a lovely post! Thanks for taking me to all those wonderful places you´ve been in your "real book life".

Laini said...

Oh wow, Kim, I LOVE this! As a fellow bookworm, I love the idea of these other stories and other lives being real. I hope my stories resonate with readers like that one day. And the image you conjured of that day on the roof is so magical. A wonderful earliest memory!

Earth Monkey said...

I NEED to make more time for MORE reading. Real life can be so much more! Thanks for sharing your adventures.

Living Part Deux said...

I was transported. Words can become so much the fiber of our beings, they form our reality and inform our development. Great thoughts!

paris parfait said...

Lovely post; I, too was greatly influenced by childhood reading and literature. It makes me anxious to be in someone's house if there are no books around! Words are a powerful thing and your piece is evocative of that truth!

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javacurls said...

What a beautiful post!