I was reading by the age of 2, able to sound out words that were in front of me and with each new word, I’m told, I was curious about its meaning. By age 6, I was as fluent as someone twice my age. By 12, I had been reading my father’s medical textbooks for several years.
Something about sticking my face in a book made the world seem smaller, more controllable. I wasn’t an asthmatic when I was narrating the story, I wasn’t having trouble making friends because the characters in the book were my friends. After all, they were sharing their intimate thoughts and important events with me.
Even non-fiction read like a story to me. Some all-knowing storyteller sharing information about the world around me and I imagine it unfolding before me and it made sense.
And poetry became like a musical story to me. It sounded like song, it sounded like the emotions I was feeling as I read the story.
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself…. (Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass)
But I’ve recently been writing a lot about the fictional characters who were my friends, the fictions I told myself as a child to get me through the tough times, the times when I learned so much by playing pretend.