Sunday, March 4, 2007

Soulmates


Meeting someone who loves the same books I do is like finding a long-lost friend. I feel like I know their soul. I felt that way when I read comments on To Kill a Mockingbird. Thoughts of this favorite book reminded me of another dear friend: Scout.

The first time I read the book I was 15. I read it mostly in the orthodontist's office, and while I sat on my bedroom floor wearing a strange balloon type bonnet that was our hairdryer. I got to know Jem, and Dill and Scout and Atticus so well I could feel them. There is no mistaking a real book, and although I had devoured books since I was 6, this was one of my first real ones. It seemed like I was in it, living in Maycomb during the depression, a child of the South with my first introduction to racism.

I reached the end of the book when Scout was walking Boo home, and I started sobbing. I loved these people, and I didn't want them to leave me. I had to stop reading. I saved the last couple of pages until an hour or so later when I had calmed down. Scout's memories on those pages are described with such tenderness. "It was daytime and the neighborhood was busy"...."It was summertime, and two children scampered down the sidewalk"..."Fall, and his children trotted to and fro"..."Winter, and his children shivered...silhouetted against a blazing house"...."Winter, and a man...walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog." It was like reading the whole book over again in just a few sentences.

I often re-read these paragraphs because they help me remember my childhood, too. I think of running barefoot down the burning, softened asphalt to catch the ice-cream truck; sitting on the screened-in porch late at night with the fragrance of lilacs floating on the breeze; the smell of the furnace on the first cold morning; the sour taste of Grampa's green apples, sprinkled with salt; watching clouds and squealing with delight to see a trail of smoke from a jet plane; laying on a blanket in the backyard, listening to my dad sing You Are My Sunshine as my Aunt Marie strums her ukelele. It all seems as far away and imaginary as the soap dolls in the tree. But it's part of me and inside me, as are Heck Tate and Aunt Maudie. I experienced it all.

Books help me recall chapters in my life. Characters have become old friends and their lives are entwined with mine. Being inside someone's mind is an intimate thing. It's like knowing their soul.

11 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

Beautiful, Marty!!! "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my favorites, too! It really helped form the person I am today and I still re-read it now and again.

How nice to meet someone who considers books their friends, too!!! Books were a refuge for this girl who never quite fit in while growing up and still doesn't.

And I really love your blog! It will be added to my blogroll soon!

Bev said...

and isn't it sort of sad that Harper Lee never wrote another book (although she helped Capote research his work which came as a real shock to me, I couldn't think of a more opposite pair!)

Her prose does draw amazing mind pictures, and has been a model for what I would like to be able to write like.

Thanks for sharing your views on this one! And yes, books were my way to travel (escape?) as a child.

MissKris said...

Hi...you've visited my blog twice now and this is the first moment I've had to come and say hello! Writing on my blog is as much a part of my day as getting up and going to bed...but I'm so time-constricted otherwise, taking care of my little grandson 10 hours a day and busy weekends, I don't get a chance to do much visiting...surely not as much as I'd LOVE to be able to do! I've been reading down your page and I think the two of us have a lot in common. "Mockingbird" is one of my favorite books/movies of all time. I first read it when I was around 12 and I SO identified with Scout...both little tomboys! I think I've read it at least 10 times in my life so far. After reading Harper's book, I stumbled across Carson McCuller's "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and that one really resonated in my soul, too. It wasn't until years later that I found out the character of Dill was based on Truman Capote, but I can certainly see it now. Amazing, all the little twists and turns and links there are in lives, isn't it? Thank you so much for stopping by, and I will certainly be back, too!

MissKris said...

PS....Your photo shows you holding a pen in your left-hand...I'm left-handed, too! :-P

Rhea said...

This is one of my favorite books, too. Right now I am reading 'Mockingbird', a biography of author Harper Lee. She is a secretive sort, so it's amazing the bio ever got written.

Carol said...

Thank you for visiting my grandmother's diary blog and leaving a comment. I know there are several who read it each day but don't comment.

I also love To Kill A Mockingbird, both the book and the movie.

Gramafolly said...

I also loved "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I have this habit of rereading books I like over and over. I might go up and get it right now and start reading. It is true that the way she describes things in that book you feel like you are there.

mama jo said...

everyone seems to love to kill a mockingbird...i think you're so right about characters...we all know that polly is a part of scarlett...the great thing about books is that you can learn so much from them...how to act and react in situaations...or just to escape for awhile..which is my favorite thing to do...

mama jo said...

actually, i'm anne in anne of green gables

Kelly said...

If we are all choosing characters, then I'm Lucy from Shadow Castle!

mama jo said...

i guess i want to be lucy also....