[Bloganuary wants to know. It’s the WordPress blog prompt for January 27, 2022.]
I hide in a book.
I’ve been doing it all my life.
I’m an introvert; I enjoy the solitude of a story coming off the page just for me.
In grade school I hid in Nancy Drew mysteries and Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators and every biography in our school library. I read when I was supposed to be doing classwork. I read to keep my head down. I read to escape the everyday noise of a house filled with family. I read on long car rides to make the time pass. I read because people usually left me alone when I did.
In high school I read for all the same reasons. But my reading material graduated.
When I was nineteen, I worked in downtown Milwaukee. There are a lot of people in downtown Milwaukee. On my lunch break, I read while walking down Wisconsin Avenue. I fell in sync with the crowds on the sidewalk, moving and stopping with them, waiting for red lights and green lights, but rarely looking up. Solitude in a collective.
I read when I went to hockey games, before the ref dropped the puck and between periods. There are a lot of people in a hockey rink.
I read when I got on a plane, right after I buckled my seatbelt. There are a lot of people in an airplane. I put my head in a book and didn’t stop until after the plane taxied to the gate, and it was my turn to exit.
When I’m tired and don’t want to talk, I read.
When I’m upset or sad or discouraged, I read. Words and sentences and the rhythm of story pull me in and shut the world out. When it works right, it’s a mediation in solitude, even in a crowd.
I carry a purse that’s large enough to carry a hardback book, if needed. Solitude in a bag.