Reading in the park is not an easy, relaxing, leisurely thing to do if you're someone like me who is constantly paranoid about being looked at. I am not a "center of attention" kind of girl. Birthday parties are my nightmare. So when I felt the need to escape the sanctuary of my home, my cozy little chair inside and my bench on the deck outside, to read out in the big wide open world where anyone could see, it took some getting used to. I found my favorite park. I found a perfect spot.
I sat on the picnic table in the shade and read. At first I did my best not to look up from the page. At first I could not concentrate at all. I would sit, staring at the same place in my book until I felt it was time to go home. I felt so silly. People passing by my perfect picnic table in the shade walked their dogs, pointed out the lily pads and ducks to their small children and chatted amongst themselves. No one pointed an accusatory finger at me, asking how dare I read literature in a park. No one cared. With that realization, I kept going back.
That park, that picnic table, has become my place. I don't have to be anyone there, just a girl reading a good book. I don't have to be efficient, witty, put together, composed, animated or prepared. I don't have to pretend that I care about anything. My world is primarily composed of paper, ink, cardstock. That wonderful book smell as the vanillin in the pages breaks down. In that brief time (almost) every day, I myself seem to be comprised of these elements.
Now, I know the thing I am both dreading and anticipating, the thing I cannot define but am waiting for, will not happen, and I read. In Rabbit, Run, there is perhaps one of the saddest pieces of writing I have ever in my life clapped eyes on. I could read it over and over, a fantastically crafted stream of consciousness, barreling like a freight train to an inevitable ending, but still a shock when the conclusion was reached. I could read it over and over, and I did, sitting there in the park. Pieces of writing like that literally and figuratively bring me to my knees. Right there in the park with no one looking (I hope).
So this first post, however daunting, is hopefully my gateway as that first visit to the park with a book in my hands. I am positive that everyone is looking at me, though the truth is probably that no one will notice my ripples in the water. The tide is crashing in elsewhere. But I am gaining momentum.