I went to Nashville for a work conference this week which means I lost 2 days of my life in airports and might die from cancer from TSA x-rays or possibly from germs from that kid who kicked my seat from Atlanta to Cleveland. Sorry, I can be a crabby traveler when the prize at the end of the trip is lectures with religious leaders, statisticians, and computer experts. I took Harry Potter #1 with me because HP is always a comfort in uncontrollable situations.
About the 4th day I realized I should’ve taken pictures like Jane does on her blog, but here’s a map of the posh complex where I stayed. The place is vast. The only time I got out of the hotel’s bubble was when I took a bus for dinner and walked about 3 blocks with throngs of happy bar hoppers. Live music was playing everywhere. Someday I’m going to visit Nashville for fun, even if they do like country music. My previous trips involved funerals and cleaning out a storage unit, but I’ve seen enough of Tennessee to know it’s very pretty. I’m also going to diet for about 3 years after all the very excellent food I ate this week.
Food aside, I was glad when I boarded the plane for Cleveland. Everyone seemed too shiny in the south. The stewardess had on 2 shades of vivid blue eyeshadow, 1” long eyelashes, and strange pink/purple lipstick on her extra-poufed lips. Cleveland people are less technicolored, and I was glad when I collected my dog from my brother (Thanks Pete!) and went to couch with her in our quiet home. We nestled under the blankies and I finished off HP in peace.
One time, my niece got into my car and did the usual obligatory shifting of reading material so she could sit down. “Why do you drive around with all these?” she asked. I said that I liked to read something short at lunch time when I was at work, or sometimes something longer when I go to the river or had to wait for an appointment. “No, why do you have them at all?” “Why do I read?” “Yes.” It was one of those magical moments when I was suddenly eloquent and said exactly the right things. I explained how books can teach us more than tv, they allow us to see into other people’s lives in cultures we’re never going to experience, and how reading allows us to use our imaginations to visualize characters and settings in ways that speak to us more personally than whatever the director of a movie envisions for us. The more I spoke, the more my love of books poured out of me and into her. She started reading.
Families who own books have more literate children than families without books, even if the parents are never seen reading. That makes sense. Having books shows that parents value them, even if it’s only for decorating. At least it shows the parents know they’re supposed to value books.
My parents filled a bookcase in the living room, and my siblings and I looked at the big Time/Life nature books. That sounds like a nice, quiet activity for children doesn’t it? “That’s me!” was screamed while jabbing a cute otter, “That’s YOU!” was screamed with the orangutan. My sister’s hair was unfortunately for her exactly the color of the orangutan’s. She hated that. Everybody wanted to be a lion, but nobody wanted to be the warthog. It was a race to stab the pictures with our fingers. It’s a good thing the pages were made of heavy paper. Those books took a beating.
The lower right shelf was Arch books full of Jesus parables. I read them all, then read the Bible, then the Koran too. I don’t know why Dad had a Koran, but if it was there, it must be read. Ditto for the classics on the upper shelves and Tolkien and yoga and whatever else my parents collected. Dad thought the classics were necessary to be properly cultured.
Every book we read makes our world a little bit bigger and makes us more knowledgeable, interesting, empathetic, or something we weren’t before – and traveling through books is a whole lot more comfortable than flying from Atlanta with a kid kicking your back.