I used to be the girl with a book in her bag. When I was growing up, if I had even one free minute, I would pull a book out of my bag and read. I read in line at the grocery store. I read when I had finished all my schoolwork early. I read while riding the bus to and from school. There was always a book in my backpack. When I finished school and got my first job, the book just moved into my purse. I read during breaks at work. I read while I waited to get gas in my car (yeah, I’m a native Jersey girl, and I did not pump my own gas until I moved south).
I was always reading.
I have always loved reading. I love the fictional worlds, the characters, the stories. When I was struggling to understand the world I lived in, I found comfort in the worlds offered by books. When I was the new kid in school and didn’t have friends, I turned to the characters in my beloved books. I would often imagine myself in those worlds, a part of those stories, living alongside the characters. I dreamed about those worlds at night, and on occasion, I even tried my hand at writing new stories for my favorite characters in my creative writing classes. They were my friends, and I loved them.
The first place I was allowed to ride alone was the town library. I would check out as many books as my bike’s basket could fit and return the following week for new ones. I could read multiple books in a week and usually, multiple books at the same time. I have always had a book on my bedside table, a book on the coffee table, and a book on the kitchen counter. I found every opportunity I could to read.
I did not give up reading entirely when I became a mom. As I fed my children at night, I read. I read every night for a little bit before falling asleep. I read on Sunday afternoons during the quiet peace of nap time. I still had a book on my bedside table, another on the coffee table, and one more on the kitchen counter.
But there was no book in my bag.
My bag was a diaper bag, and it was filled to the brim with diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, toys, and food. There was no room for a book. And when would I read it anyway?
And so for four years, I lost sight of the girl I had once been—the girl with a book in her bag. And I didn’t even realize she was missing until I finally found her again. I finally became her again.
I don’t carry a diaper bag anymore. I carry a purse again instead. It still has a small pack of wipes and snacks, but the days of diapers are fast receding. But now there is something else in my bag . . . a book.
I used to be the girl who always had a book with her, and I finally am again.
I rediscovered her. She was temporarily lost, but I found her. And hopefully this time I’ll do a better job holding onto her.
I am the girl with a book in her bag again. If you find me with my kids at the playground, I might be reading the latest murder mystery. If you find me sitting at the pediatrician’s office, I might be reading my favorite Jane Austen novel. If you find me sitting in my car on the school pick-up lane, I might be rereading the Harry Potter series for the fourth or fifth time. You’ll never know for sure what I will be reading, but you can rest assured that I will have a book in my bag.
Because that’s who I am. That’s who I’ve always been, and I’m never losing sight of that girl again.