I realized yesterday that I’m more like you than I thought. I mean along with the love of thrift stores, brown leather loafers, old movies, and bagels, you’ve had a hand in a lot of the things I value.
For one New York. I grew up with characteristics in the periphery: Yankee games, throwaway comments of your life here, trips to visit the family. When I was in high school, you offered to sponsor my ticket to go with the journalism class to New York. It influenced my recent move to New York actually, so this life experiment has a bigger stamp from you than I thought.
Second, and more importantly, reading. Before I started school, it was just us — us and reading a book before bedtime. When I was a kid, it was one of my favorite times because it gave me an excuse to curl up next to you and listen as you deciphered the lines of script I couldn’t. You ran your middle finger over the page, and as often as I tried to fix it you’d change back. I’d ask you to read books over and over. It was annoying of me really, but you wouldn’t refuse.
Sure you didn’t really have the patience for pop-up books where you pulled the paper tabs and sure you didn’t follow the rhythm of Dr. Seuss but read it in your slow, deliberate way, but it did get me started looking at books more and more.
I was an awful reader actually. I wasn’t good at spelling. I ignored a lot of grammar rules. But I did love reading and writing. I always carried a book around. I fell in love with characters. I fell in love with story lines.
I don’t know when you stopped reading to me. Probably one night I fell asleep without your voice, and the nights after that I started to read on my own. Nights down the line we stopped saying “good night” to each other entirely, but I’d pass you with a book tucked under my arm on my way to bed.
I’m passed illustrated books and Dr. Seuss — sort of — but sometimes, I wonder why you can’t read the New York Times to me when I’m around. Or why not a non-fiction essay? We could just sit around and do a few classics too.
Or maybe one day, someday, I’ll write something that will be published, something I can share with you and read to you before you go to bed. I’ll run my middle finger over the lines like you, and I’ll read without funny voices or gestures because you didn’t, and I’ll pace myself to make sure that you drift off right when I get to that last word.