Falling in Love with words
In my College English class, my professor’s first assignment for us was to write a literacy narrative on how we learned to read and write. After scribbling down a few vivid memories I had, I realized a common theme kept reappearing, and that was the personification of words. Due to this personification, my narrative began with the opening line, “Writing is like falling in love,” to which my professor wrote on my paper, “My favorite opening line of the semester this far.”
You will see this through out my blog posts because it is the most honest way I have been able to describe my relationship with writing.
Now, with that brief context in mind, here is the story of how I was introduced to writing:
Writing is like falling in love. If it’s real, the deepest parts of you are terrified because allowing exposure invites judgement. The confidence of showing the thought process through writing begs for vulnerability and with it, fear. This is my story of literacy, and how I allowed myself to become infatuated with words.
The earliest of memories involving reading take me to the quiet of my living room. My dad would use faded blue flashcards to help my siblings and I read simple words. I always liked the patience in his eyes as we stumbled through words like Mom, Can, and Pen.
I vividly remember one night where my dad was tired and failed to remind us about our flashcard routine. My siblings finished their chores and went quietly to their rooms for the night. I was too curious of this stranger named Literacy, that I couldn’t possibly skip a night. I went to my dad and begged him to go through the cards with me. We sat on the couch in the faintly lit, quiet of the living room. The first cards were easy: Mop, Nap, Pig. My dad would flip through the cards with increasing speed as I read the cards faster and faster. Tap, Eye, Dot.
My four-year-old self stopped reading at the realization that I didn’t want this moment to end. Learning with Dad was quiet, but pleasant. He knew how to make it fun, rewarding me with a laugh and a smiley beard when I read the words correctly. My solution to this was to start reading the words incorrectly. “And” was the next card he held up with its familiar folded corners.
“Ad,” I said. My Dad corrected me and pointed out the “n” sound. Of course, I didn’t need his help, I wanted it. I sat there and let him correct me until I was satisfied with the time we had spent together. I went to my bed that night, but couldn’t sleep, I was too excited to finally be able to speak to this stranger known as Literacy.
From the ages five to eight, I read everything my hands could reach. One particular afternoon, I was reading The Magic Tree House Series: Pirates Past Noonwhile sitting on the top bunk of my bed. The room was just quiet enough that I was suddenly on the pirates’ ship. I felt the ship rock and smelled the salty air. I ran up behind one of the characters from the book and tapped him on the shoulder. Then I blinked, and I was back in bed. Looking around the room I realized what had just happened. I can travel, I thought. I can go anywhere I want to! Anytime that I want to! Finally, I could read without skipping over long words and getting lost in the complex syllables.
That one afternoon was all it took to establish my passion for reading. Once I started understanding and even loving what I read, the writing followed naturally. Writing, like all art, comes with risk. By letting people admire my metaphors and poetic word structure, I also let myself be vulnerable to criticism. When my Dad flipped through those flash cards, and when I time traveled for the first time to that pirate ship, I was slowly falling in love.
My journey from befriending Literacy which eventually lead to affection, was no accident. In love, you have to let yourself fall, because the words can only do so much on their own. You must let yourself be honest enough to delve into the deepest parts of your own imagination, and then let those deep parts be judged by others. Judgement sounds intimidating, and without allowing oneself to be imaginative and creative, it is scary, but if only more people would let themselves fall, the scariness would turn into excitement just as it is true with love.