Passenger Side

I live about seven hours away from my parents, so I don’t make it back home very often. When I am there, I love visiting with them and the rest of my family back home, but I also love the unique reading atmosphere. When I am in my apartment in Illinois, I have too many distractions which often interrupt my reading time. The distractions are fewer at home, so I treasure any minute I have to read and relax.

When I pack a suitcase to go, I also pack a bag jammed with books. I usually know I’ll never have time to read them all, but it’s always better to be over prepared. As I prepared to leave for home last Thursday, I loaded my bag with a lot of young adult fiction, which I have sort of been neglecting to read. I’ve instead done a lot of reading of middle grade books. I thought the books in the extra bag wouldn’t be enough, so I also squeezed a few books in my suitcase before yanking the zipper shut.

I loaded up my vehicle with my suitcase, bag of books, and a pile of shirts still on their hangers- it’s the best way to avoid wrinkles, right? I laid those nicely over the front seat.

I enjoyed my break and my time with family, and I also treasured the moments I had to read. Books like Andrew Smith’s Winger, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, & A.S. King’s Reality Boy drew me in deep. They took hold of some of the emotions I hadn’t used in a while and shook them hard. They were so well written it was difficult to put them down when the time came. I left Eleanor and Park behind so my mom could read it and pass it on, but the rest I packed to take back with me, along with many other books.

I packed up my Christmas presents and arranged them in the back of my vehicle as if I were playing Tetris. I saved just enough room for my suitcase to go in back as well. When it was time to leave, I carried the suitcase out and my mom carried my bag of books. She put it in the backseat, hugged and kissed me good-bye. Before I got in the car, I noticed the passenger seat was empty. What did I have in the passenger seat on the way home?  I decided it must have been the books. I moved the books to the passenger seat.

I spent the next 7 hours driving back to Illinois, regretting not getting an audiobook or two to ease the lull of being confined to my vehicle for such an enormous length of time.

I arrived back in IL and began unpacking- and a few hours later I pushed the rewind button in my mind… Something else did belong in the passenger seat- my good clothes! I realized that all of my nice shirts were still hanging in a dark closet 400 miles away in Iowa. 

I realize that reading often takes the passenger side in my ride of life. Oh yes, I have my priorities- God, teaching, relationships, and so on and so forth, but often reading trumps anything else that follows.

When I have a few moments here, what do I wind up doing? Grabbing the nearest book.
If I’m not on lunch duty, how do I relax while I eat my lunch? Something related to reading.
I can’t sleep unless I’ve read at least an hour’s worth of a good book.

Someone from my family asked me, “Why do you love reading so much?” Quite a loaded question, but I can’t imagine life without reading. It’s more than a hobby. Sure, I enjoy it, but I don’t do it solely because I enjoy it. I do it because it makes me a better person. It makes me smarter. It challenges me. It pushes me. It stirs up feelings that would otherwise go untouched. It gives me something to talk about….

and the list could go on. Books and reading will always get to sit in my metaphorical passenger seat. I will take them with me wherever I go. Far better is the places that they can take me. Sure, I’m the driver of my life, but when books get the passenger side, they can bring me places I could only visit through the pages of a book.

The nice shirts can travel through the USPS this time. Books make far better passenger seat companions.

12 thoughts on “Passenger Side

  1. I read all of the “gentle nudges” you received last night about starting a blog…man you didn’t waste any time! I love the passenger seat post and look forward to reading more.

  2. I know the feeling! Today I am packing to leave my mom’s after 11 days here.I am squeezing in one more visit to the book store, as there is not as much opportunity to book shop for English books in Berlin. I have been to a book store already four times and read some books in the store, bought some, and downloaded more than a few on to my Kindle. Reading does make us who we are!

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