Saturday, July 03, 2010

Two Worlds

Thinking about what reading is like for me made me think of a description I wrote back in ninth grade. It was about swimming out at a "real" beach rather than a tourist spot, back when I was eleven.

I don't have very many memories from my childhood, but that afternoon is just incredibly vivid.

I remember that the sun was SO bright we had to squint all day, even after being out for hours. I don't remember putting on sunblock, but I know my mom was there, so I'm sure we did!

I remember that we wore cheap shoes because rather than sand, the sea floor was covered with sharp rocks.

I remember that wet canvas shoes were very uncomfortable - I wasn't a great swimmer, and my feet felt SO awkward in shoes! But the rocks hurt my feet if I took them off. Plus I was afraid of getting poked by the sea urchins.

They were ALL OVER. I remember my cousin, who didn't wear shoes, going "WOY WOY WOY!" after he speared his foot quite neatly. I also remember that he was the only one who could open his eyes underwater - the rest of us wore masks.

I remember looking for sand dollars and sea biscuits. I remember holding sea urchins and starfish and watching as they tickled their way across my palms. There were two kinds of sea urchins there - the pudgy ones with itty pricklespines, and the wee ones with loooong pointy spines.

But what I remember most of all was the instant shift in sound. With my head above the water I could hear it lapping at the rocks of the beach. I could hear splashing as kids dove and kicked. I could hear the grownups chatting.

Take a breath, duck under, and all that goes away. There is a soft whush-whush as someone swims by above. I can hear the clatter of stones shifting below me. And if I close my eyes and listen as carefully as possible, I can hear my heart beating.

Then with a kick, I come up for air, and the world is right there again.

That's what reading is like - that sort of muffling of everything else except me and the book. Sometimes I get a book that I really connect with, and when that happens, it takes physical force to pull me out of that other world. Nothing harsh, mind; a touch on the shoulder is usually enough.

But it takes a moment or two to get re-oriented to the real world again.


MaryBeth said...

I absolutely LOVE this!!! So beautifully written and accurate. I never thought of it that way, but you are spot on. I think I may share it with my kids in the fall, with your permission of course.

Clix said...

Wow, thanks. :) Go right ahead!

Mardie said...

This is a perfect analogy - submerged. Lovely writing, makes me long for that other world.

Clix said...

It... I dunno, this really surprises me. I think my analogy is quite strong, but the writing? I just kind of tried to ... explain what I mean, and ... I just listed details I remembered.

It is the kind of writing I tend to appreciate: clear, simple, vivid, precise, effective. I do like it. I think it's good. I just ... I dunno. I don't think of it as "lovely" or "beautiful" writing.

But then I guess I'm pretty utilitarian in my outlook anyway. :)

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