I had the day off today. I spent a few hours of my morning at the DMV. (Department of Motor Vehicles) I can hear your cyber-empathy – but I assure you, I had a lovely time. For slightly more than 2 hours while I waited to register my daughter’s newly-bought-but-very- old-car, I read.
What else was I to do? Gab loudly on the phone like the obnoxious lady sitting amongst us? Continually groan and sigh in exasperation like countless others? Stare up at the television screen full of DMV fun facts? (I was too busy reading my book to catch any – sorry.) I felt grateful for this time to just sit and READ. Rare bliss, these busy days.
I try and read before bed but rarely make it past a few pages before conking out. I rarely mind waiting for Molly when I have to pick her up from somewhere, as long as I have a book — but I guess I won’t have those stolen moments any longer now that she’ll have her own wheels. My friend Nina Sankovitch knows about reading everywhere and anywhere, having read (and written about!) a book a day for a year. Read about her remarkable journey in her memoir, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading.
I am half-way through this year’s National Book Award winner by Louise Erdrich, The Roundhouse and am very fond Joe, the 13 year old narrator. He’s the kind of son I would hope for were I to have had a son rather than my perfect daughter. The novel has a beautiful tension, some suspense and sentences you’ll want to read twice. I read and read again this sentence while standing in line to get my number so I could go sit and wait some more: “When you are little, you do not know that you are screaming or crying–your feelings and the sound that comes out of you is all one thing.”
To add to my delight, (yes, I am talking about my hours spent at the DMV) when my number D269 was announced with directions to proceed to window 17, a youngish man — early 30s tops — who reminded me of science fiction guys who regularly browse that section of my store, asked me what I was reading. While he processed my paperwork, barely glancing at it before handing over a spanking fresh set of license plates, we talked about books. We don’t read the same stuff – he’s a horror and as I guessed, sci-fi reader – but it didn’t matter. We recognized our book-kinship and spent what might have been inconsequential or even irritating moments of bureaucracy, connecting and raving about reading. On my way out, book and plates tucked under my arm, I passed the long line of dour faces with a grin on mine.