How My Literacy Started

It probably started in Treetops, VT. Or maybe it was somewhere else. When I was young, about three or four years old, my family went on vacation. I only remember my sister, aunt, and me there though I’m told my entire family made an appearance. Usually there was no one there except for this one family that lived there year round, the owners.The rest of the cabins and cottages would sit there, empty. This place was special though. Because, besides the lake and the rocky shore with the smell of smoke lingering in the air from the barbecue cooking, this was the place where we discovered Harry Potter. It might not seem like a big thing, but it was for us. The first night that we cracked open the book, owls sat there staring at us. They’d make their eerie noises and their eyes never seemed to wander from us. The moonlight filtered through the trees and set the atmosphere. My aunt would read by the porch light, while I would listen to the soft murmur of her voice. There was nothing else but her voice, the night, and the owls. That’s all I remember now. I don’t remember one word of the book. Back then, it wasn’t about the words though. It was about being there with my sister and my aunt and having a good time. At a place that seemed to be magical, that was magical. We tore through the first two books there. And continued reading the series as each book was released for the next few years. Until we got to the fourth book. That was when my aunt got sick. Granted, she was never the healthiest. But cancer has a way of knocking anyone down. That’s when we stopped reading. And when her brain deteriorated, that’s when I stopped believing in magic.

I still cling to books. After she died, I started reading. And reading. I just couldn’t stop. The only series that I never could bring myself to touch was Harry Potter. To this day, it remains unfinished at halfway through book four. But other stories were read every day. Books would be consumed. Looking back, I can see now how I took to reading to be closer with my aunt again. How I desperately searched for a way to find her again, to find the magic again.

My sister was the exact opposite of me. She finished the series and never looked at another book. She has the entire series, in hardcover. And all the movies. But I can’t open up that one series. That’s uncharted territory that I want nothing to do with. Maybe it’s because she is five years older. And she remembers more than I do. Maybe she never lost the magic. Or maybe that was her way of holding on.

For me though, I was lost. My fragile and protected world that I had grown up in was crumbling down. Desperately, I searched for answers to the world. Writing was just one of my many attempts at fixing the world. Writing was the way to create my own endings. To find the magic, the happy and exciting places. Throughout my early education, notebooks were filled with stories of faraway places. Of witches and vampires, or knights and dragons. But they all ended up unfinished and halfhearted. It wasn’t until 9th grade English that my writing started to take a turn for the better. Because that was the year that I had Mr. Wolgemuth as a teacher. To me, he was the teacher who lifted us from the bindings of writing. The one who pointed out that the coveted 5 paragraph essay would be obsolete in the years after high school. That we were practiced enough already that it was time to start breaking the rules of writing. Of all my high school teachers, he is the one that developed my writing the most. A large part of that was because he was the first teacher who ever told me off. For a long time before freshman year, I was pessimistic. The glass was only ever half empty and I tended to searched for the unpleasant endings. But no one had ever pointed out that my attitude was undesirable. Sometimes you just need someone to point it out, and then it becomes obvious that it’s obnoxious and unbearable. He’s the reason that it dawned on me, that life is what you make of it. And all my unfinished stories? Did I really want to leave them unfinished? Or done halfheartedly? No. Nothing deserves to be left undone. I started writing because I wanted to make my own magic. But somewhere along the way, I got lost. Again.

I ended up taking two more classes that were taught by him. And now my writing takes influences from all three courses. And now I continue to look forward in my learning.  Because it’s my choice to. My writing and reading are primarily influenced by these two people in my earlier life. Thanks to them, I have a passion that pushes me forward to expand my views of the world and always keeps things interesting. There is a good chance that my future career won’t involve more than writing reports and stating the facts, but that doesn’t mean that I will stop writing and reading for my own creative purposes. Stories will always continue to be written, whether they are typed out or stored away in my head.   

There isn’t one moment that I can single out from the others. Who I am today as a writer and as a reader are impacted from countless events and people. These two events only make up a small portion of my experience. I write to remember and to forget. I write to find the motivation to keep going. Even when the stories aren’t written, my mind is filled with the tales and pictures of something more. Why do I write?  When I have so much to say about the world, why do I keep to myself for the majority of the time? Maybe one day I’ll write out the answer.