"Tell me how you first learned to read."
Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away
I cannot remember how I first learned to read, but I do remember when I started to like reading.
I was fourteen and sent away for the summer to my godparents who lived on a small lake in Michigan. I am not sure if this retreat was my request to get away from my family or if I my parents sent me away because I was a pain in the ass teenager. Either way, I stowed away in their basement with a pullout bed surrounded by a pool table and a player piano. I had my own bathroom, a luxury I never had again until my first apartment in college. I am sure I spent endless hours in the mirror of that bathroom, perfecting my blue eye shadow that I put on nearly every day even though I did not see anyone other than my godparents for most of the summer.
I had brought a few books with me because my godmother was an English teacher and I figured she would be appalled if I planned only to daydream the whole summer and not do any reading. So after a few weeks of paddling out to the middle of the lake by myself and getting over my fear of jumping off the dock, I pick up my copy of a trashy novel with a teenage love story that I have forgotten the name of. There were gangs and the hint of sex, and I just could not put it down. After that book, I invaded my godparent's collection, and I have not stopped repeatedly escaping into a good novel.