“We accept the love we think we deserve”- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I remember when Kelsey handed me that book, at my graduation party from Radford in December 2010. I let it sit on my shelf for over a year, a slim novel, a quick read, gathering dust while I lived my life. I picked it up and I read it because the movie was coming out and I was intrigued.
I love it because I can watch the movie a thousand times and still love it like the first.
This line and “In that moment I swear we were infinite” are the two that define the book and the film.
They are carved into skin with tattoos and plastered on posters.
They matter. They make you think. They make you question.
Good books (and movies) do that. They grab a hold and let you simmer in someone else’s world and when you come out- sometimes you take a little bit with you.
Something small, like the words from Perks, or something larger- like the moral dilemma I still haven’t been able to solve from Gone Baby Gone.
Books and film have always been a stronger escape for me than a glass of wine or a run. I spend my time on a stairmaster or treadmill and I can’t turn my thoughts off. I can’t drown out a moment that has me stressed, my insecurities, my fears. I pound the pavement and instead feel like I am pounding those thoughts deeper to the forefront.
But with a book or a film, I become absorbed. I give myself wholly and fully to the experience. I’m honestly horrible to go into the movies with, I gasp, I cry, I get completely into it and forget other people are around. And forget a horror film, I’m like the lady in the Comcast commercial, “DON’T GO IN THERE!”
With books, I get hungover, I get so lost in someone else’s world that coming out feels like a loss. Like I am missing out. I consider literary characters almost as close as friends. Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione are as entwined with my youth as my friendships with Cat and Kelsey.
My friendship with Stef is defined by Sookie Stackhouse and The Mortal Instruments novels. Our mutual love of a fictional boy who actually doesn’t suck and a world where everything is not black and white.
Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum remind me of tenth grade, when I laughed so hard at 3 in the morning I woke my parents up and I couldn’t even stop long enough to read the sentence. To this day the scene in Hot Six can make me laugh until I cry. My dad still buys me each one as it comes out in paperback, because of that moment.
I haven’t picked up a book in a while. I’ve been too absorbed in living. In running from moment to moment, soaking in every second of how wonderful life can be. I’ve spent my time escaping with real people, enjoying laughing and dancing, and nights in singing Nelly songs in my living room. I’ve been doing things.
But, today, I picked up four. (I also ate a dark chocolate chip cookie and some coconut milk ice cream.) But I need to escape a little. My head is full and I need someone else’s joy, someone else’s adventure, someone else’s story so I can find some breathing room. Some are new stories, some are old friends, like Atticus Kodiak in Greg Rucka’s novels, a book so well-worn that the pages have begun to bear my thumb imprint.
And maybe when I come out, I’ll have a clearer idea of what I want. I’ll find some clarity. I’ll have some courage. And as always, hope.