This I Believe

Ariel - Albany, Georgia
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in reading before bedtime. In how the right book can turn a bad day into a night of blissful adventures with Tom and Huck, Princess Mia, or Elizabeth Bennet. In falling asleep, leaving the troubles of daily life in the active reality that I will wake up to in five, six, seven hours, succumbing for moment to my childhood fantasies of deep sea adventures and climbs up treacherous volcanoes.

I have read every night before I lay my head down on my polka-dot pillow, hues of purple, since kindergarten. While the context of the books have changed, from The Little Mermaid to Junie B. Jones to The Catcher and the Rye, the methodical pattern of opening a book every evening (or early morning hour) has remained, and the feeling of ending my stressful day in the same manner I did at age five is comforting and reassuring and lingers in my dreams.

Long gone are the days of my former four-year-old self, when my mother and father sat along-side my bed, then clad in Nala sheets, Lion King covers, as I sounded out syllables in time to the fan swirling softly above my head. Now I am sixteen and I still hear that same fan as I set aside my book for the evening after reading, if only for a few minutes.

I have held a flashlight bigger than my hand itself, a book light in the shape of a spring, and a small rectangular glass plate with a bulb in the spine. Whatever device I may use to enhance my experience, whatever variable may throw a wrench in my day, I find solace in hearkening back to my younger days, my simpler days, devoid of the stresses of Pre-cal tests, summer programs and scholarship applications, dance, and growing up.

The oppressive force of Accelerated Reader, the perpetual summer reading assignments, and the required novels for English class from elementary school to high school have yet to hinder my few minutes of non-academic reading every single night. I do it not because I have to, but because I am accustomed to the pages’ texture, to the dim illumination of a bulb about to burn out, to the remnants of a small girl sleeping in the same bed years ago wishing she was only an inch taller so she could reach that next rock on the volcanic peak. I believe in knowing a book so well that I can feel the imprints from my index fingers still cast like little fossils into the pages, holding on to words since the last time I read the story so many days ago; I believe in knowing that some things never change and that constants are not inconceivable impossibilities in this fast-paced world. I am reminded of this ideal every night as I slip into deep slumber, reminiscing on the vivid images I just lived, the pictures I was a part of, the words I just read with my new light.