Friday, 14 February 2014

A Valentine’s Day confession (Don’t tell my husband. This is my true love!)

Long before I met my husband, I would often fall asleep in the arms of another, many others actually.

My bed was shared with old and new loves. Even when I finished with one and moved onto another, I never let go of the one before. They shared my bedroom, resided on shelves, dripped off the bedside table or leaned in assorted sized towers on the floor. Books. Books were my first love and my world. They gave me what I often didn’t get from reality—a sense of place, a sense of belonging. Books allowed me to step away from everything else to tumble into worlds where nothing else mattered. They never let me down.

My mother was proud of the fact that I began to read very young, but she was frustrated by my insistence on taking books everywhere – the loo, on car trips, the table at dinner time. I refused to give them up. What kid doesn’t want her best friends to tag along everywhere? My mother coped by accepting my love affair and buying more bookshelves.

Television wasn't allowed in my home until I was twelve years old and even on its introduction, I was restricted to one hour of viewing a day. It made no difference to me. My relationship with books was already entrenched. At night, I fell asleep with my nose buried in between open pages that caressed my cheeks like leafed hands. There I would sleep, taking the characters into my dreams. When Mum came in to turn off the light, even in my dreamlike state, I’d wrestle her for the book she tried to remove from my hands. No one was going to break us up. I cuddled hardcover books like other children cuddled soft teddy bears.

My bed is still surrounded by these wonderful friends. I don’t expect my relationships with them to change. I get too much out of them. I'm nourished and feel like I'm being showered with gifts with every new story that I read. I’d rather receive a bouquet of bookmarks to use with novels than receive a bouquet of roses. We’re joined at the hip and there will be no separation.

As for my lovely husband, he accepts that he has to share me with these past and yet-to-be sweethearts. He knows I will regularly rant to him about the time I've spent with them, how happy they’ve made me, what they’ve taught me, how they’ve become part of me. He doesn’t seem to mind, so there’s no threat really. And, why would there be?

He and I have been together so long, I can read him like a book.