green eggs and books

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booksThe first book I ever read was “Green Eggs and Ham.”

I was in first grade and it was past my bedtime. The house had fallen quiet with only the whisper of the boiler. At the time, we lived in a rented duplex in Helena, Montana. It had white columns supporting the narrow cement porch. From my 5-year-old perspective, it was beautiful.

My memories of that place have the continuity of a Twitter feed. We got robbed there once; they took my dad’s bike…I stuck my tongue on an electric pole during the winter, and my sister pulled me lose at the price of my taste buds … We had a huge water fight with a neighbor we didn’t know after he dumped a bucket of water on my dad off of the second story … We used to run squealing after the happy melodies of the ice cream truck … I watched my sister crash her bike around the corner from our house … My dad was in college … My best friend’s name was Betsy … I had my first crush … We did laundry at the laundromat on Tuesdays and always went to Taco Bell afterwards.

But my memory of the night I read my first book isn’t so disjointed. My parents and sister had gone to bed, and I sat in the middle of my bedroom on a pile of blankets, paging through the dog-eared pages of Dr. Seuss’ famous children’s story.

When I reached the last page, I experienced a feeling of triumph akin to a mountaineer reaching the top of a peak. Yet, there was no one to celebrate with. They were all asleep.

It was the beginning of my love affair with the written word. It was the precursor to my infatuation with Shel Silverstein and C.S. Lewis and Carolyn Keene, and later Jodi Picoult and Bodie Thoene and Charles Frazier. I went on to win reading contests in middle school when my annual consumption of books numbering into the triple digits. I would stay up into early morning hours devouring narratives and falling into other lives and savoring the delicious arch of a good story. I wrote my own on printer paper and clumsily illustrated them with cats and killer whales.

It was no surprise I became a writer.

Cheers to Dr. Suess.

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