I spent a lot of time alone as a kid. I wasn't lonely -- I had wonderful parents, friends, dogs, but an only child is alone by definition. Those moments other kids spent with siblings, I often spent sitting on the floor of the office or den, a room I tried hard to call "the library," as it was stuffed with books, but the name never took. Our house was filled with books. I had shelves full of them in a nook in our basement. There were books in my room, in the living room, by my mother's bed, on a row of folding shelves that made their way into the upstairs hallway while I was in high school, and sometimes 2-deep lining the walls of the office.
I was thinking about this yesterday, as I drove to pick my son up from school, about how I feel a little less bad about the amount of time I spend reading books and searching for stories online when I remember that I've always done this. While there was no Google and no random link-following, there was meandering through Childcraft (the 1964 edition, with several yearbooks). There was looking up "pandas" in the World Book Encyclopedia and getting lost in articles about palanquins and Paris. There were all the Bobsey Twins books my mother had collected.
Like a thirsty creature, knowing I'd have to wander back into the desert again, I drank deep at that fountain, letting the words fill me up.
I must have assumed everyone spent hours that way, or exploring museums and zoos, or dawdling in the yard pretending I was Tacy or Anne or Linnea or Meg Murray or Mary Lennox, picking the soft-leaved, spicy yarrow and wild gooseberries. I had no idea that it was a rare and privileged childhood. As I grew older, I wished I knew how to apply eyeliner and be effortlessly cool and graceful, but instead I was intense and full of random knowledge.
What else was I to do but tell stories?
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.