Photo by Kayla Gonzalez
Growing up, books progressively became my only consistent friends because of keeping to myself and my quirky personality. I had two escapes from my reality: reading and school work. During elementary, I struggled forming friendships because of my quirkiness, and I always seemed to carry copies from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series with me. I loved that series because it felt like the main character himself faced struggles too.
Although my home life felt rough at the time because of family issues and financial struggles, books never let me down. They were my escape. When my mom had time, she took my brothers and me to the public library where I grew up, and I remember walking in and thinking about how magical the book-filled shelves looked. The kid center consisted of bean bag chairs, painted murals, kids’ toys and endless rows of books. I always walked to the big kid section and ran my fingers over the spines, trying to decide which story would go home with me that day. Even today, when I walk into a bookstore and the smell fills my lungs, my body relaxes instantly, and I know I found a safe place.
Every summer, my family and I traveled to Tucson, Arizona for at least a week to visit family. During these times, I used to dream about sitting at a desk one day in a room completely filled with books and writing my own stories down that would offer other people their own escapes one day. I would make sure on these long trips to bring a stack of books, so I could show my cousins and my Aunt Debbie. She too had a small library in the back room which I always went in and sat down and looked at the series she had sitting in there.
Even when I made four separate moves within one year, including to a different state, my books stayed with me. My eyes would be reading the words, but my mind would be creating a whole movie. I sometimes would pretend to be the characters and live through them. Even though they only lasted a couple hundred pages, I mourned for the fictional characters, still visiting those stories. I reminisced in the chapters of my life in which I had read the book and why it was so significant at the time. It is true when they say readers live multiple lives by reading and the person who does not read lives only one.