Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Original Nook

I had a nook when I was a kid.  And it wasn't electronic.

I found my nook the summer after I turned twelve. That summer was a tough one.

My dad had gotten himself in trouble, and with it came financial and legal issues. Our family was a mess. Mom had gone back to work. One big brother was in Italy, serving a mission for our church, and the other was as far from home as he could be as a teenager. My sister got married and moved. My younger brother managed to get into all kinds of trouble. Friends were no longer allowed to 'play with those kids'. And the house was cloaked in tension and sadness.

In an effort to help, I took on as much responsibility as I could. During the day I'd clean, do laundry, take care of my younger brother, and start dinner.

But evenings were all mine, and I had a bike. And a library card.

The local library wasn't very big, but it had a pretty good selection of books. I started with the entire Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, and worked my way up to and through every Ray Bradbury novel. I even learned to love Shakespeare that summer. And I'd stay, looking through the stacks for hours, finding my next adventure.

Then one day I found my nook.

It was at the edge of the library, nestled between two windows, hidden by the shelves of magazines. A small padded seat, deep enough to curl up and read, big enough for a couple of people. But it was mine alone that summer.

It was the launching pad of dreams, the gateway to imagination, and the best friend a bookworm could have.

I spent hours there, reading the books I loved, away from the stress and turmoil of  my home life. I'd try new authors, choose books I thought I might like and take a small taste before checking them out, and exist in wonderful worlds outside of my own. I consumed the books, and they consumed me.

I'd ride my bike home with several books each time, only to return for more within a few days.

The librarians would smile and wave when I walked in. They knew I'd be there for a while.

But the summer couldn't last forever, and school took priority over the nook. I'd still stop and get books on my way home from junior high school, but I couldn't stay. The early darkness of winter made it impossible.

I introduced some friends to the nook during those years. Had a few sweet kisses there. Studied there when I could.

And as life got easier at home, and I moved on to high school, I lost touch with my secret hide-away.

I didn't need the quiet and peace of the nook anymore.

But I've never forgotten the feeling of having a place of my own in the library. I've never lost the love of the books that carried me away from my troubled mind. I've never stopped enjoying the feel of the pages in my hands, the smell of the paper.

And now when I hear someone talk about reading on their Nook, I smile.

I had a nook long before they ever did.

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