At work, I've been asked to reflect on my past a lot lately. We are using a fundraising model that asks you to put yourself into describing why you do your work, not intellectually but emotionally, so you can ask other people to care too. It's cheesy in a way, but also really powerful, and it's what I need right now personally, I think.
So I've been thinking a lot about reading, and how it really saved me from my parents' madness as a kid, and how it was my parents that gave me the tools to escape from their madness. Books helped me spin my bohemian dreams, and I think I've been pretty faithful to them, in my own practical way. I still remember in high school when we were discussing the Adrienne Rich poem below. I just looked it up, googling Adrienne Rich and "shawl"--hadn't read it since then and didn't remember the title. It means even more to me now.
In high school (see photo above), the teacher asked the class to say where the poem was taking place. Reflexively, I raised my hand and said "Greenwich Village." Right, said the teacher. All of my suburban Cleveland classmates were totally freaked out--how did I know that? I felt, gladly, different.
Living in Sin
She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. A plate of pears,
a piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
stalking the picturesque amusing mouse
had risen at his urging.
Not that at five each separate stair would writhe
under the milkman's tramp; that morning light
so coldly would delineate the scraps
of last night's cheese and three sepulchral bottles;
that on the kitchen shelf among the saucers
a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own---
envoy from some village in the moldings . . .
Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes;
while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove.
By evening she was back in love again,
though not so wholly but throughout the night
she woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
like a relentless milkman up the stairs.