A stack of books are piled to my right, drawing my mind to the stacks of books I have in my room. The process of purging my life came down to me keeping two big bins of my possessions, most of which ended up being books.
I’ve read hundreds of books in my life. I have multiple lists on my phone, titles scribbled in journals and on scraps of paper, and new titles peaking my interest.
To be completely and utterly transparent about the level of nerd I’m at: one of my highlights of the day was getting a library card at my nearest public library. (The other was eating fresh, mini donuts with my neighbor and her son.)
I used to get lost in books. I had zero idea of what was happening around me as I would get my scholastic bag filled with not one, but three of the latest babysitter club books. I was determined I would somehow meet Claudia, Dawn and Stacey and the rest of the gang. I not-so-secretly geeked out when summer reading lists would be handed out by my upcoming English teacher from jr. high to high school. I had homework due on the first day of class, and this somehow brought my tiny little self joy (which brought lots of people making fun of me for being such a dork.)
Everyone else I knew wanted to be Princess Jasmine who was whisked away on a magic carpet ride, but I longed to be Belle and have someone surprise me with an enormous library. I wanted my whole new world to be one where countless books would take me to places of wonder.
I remember I would tell myself to not read a whole book in one day. I wanted to savor the story, but once I started, all discipline would fly out the window and I would immerse myself in these worlds until I finished every last page, only taking breaks for snacks and the bathroom. Eh, ok, so I would take the book with me to the bathroom, too.
I think back then I used reading as an escape. When I read a book, it didn’t matter that I was too short to play on the basketball team, or that I wasn’t the owner of a magic bicycle that could fly, or that my family didn’t have enough money to pay for dance classes (but thanks to the public library, I checked out ballet books and learned as much as I could from pictures and, Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation was a co-teacher of dance as well). The sad truth is I was awkwardly desperate to be anyone else but me.
I would put myself in the place of the hero or heroine and I would imagine what it would be like to be someone important or strong or adventurous. I did not know then that my escape route through books was a message to myself that I was not good enough and so it was best for me to disappear and not exist.
As I write this, I have tears welling up because I wish I could go back in time and hug little Rachy. I wish I could go tell her she is extraordinary, beautiful, so very precious, and worth every bit of life she was given.
But here I am, a woman in her thirties and all I can do now is live that truth and find ways to let little Rachy help me live life to the fullest now. We are not apologetic of our existence. We love to laugh. She reminds me to take risks and I remind her she is worth protecting.
She still worries about being so small, but I let her know 5’2″ is enough height to ride all the cool rides. She reminds me to sit and read a good book and I remind her that we are writing our own adventure everyday. The best part is I’m able to be the heroine of my own story and not only is it worth telling – it is worth living.