will the change come while we’re waiting

On Monday I start working in downtown Sacramento, and I’m already missing my lazy slow-motion life of the past couple of weeks. Much of it has been spent drinking endless glasses of cranberry juice, reading stacks of books from the public library, and eating tomato-cucumber-extra cheese sandwiched between slices of whole wheat bread. Clearly, I am not a firm believer in the strenuous lifestyle.

In the daytime and afternoon, when the heat of the outdoors keeps me closeted inside and the heat of my room makes me flee to air-conditioned areas of the house, I contort myself into the confines of the living room armchair – head on one armrest, knees curving over the other, legs sprawled over the side so that my toes touch the shiny black end table hugging the side of the chair – and read.

I’m very fidgety when it comes to sitting like a normal human being, seeing as how I must always have my feet up. I sit cross-legged at the dining room table, and stretch out my legs when I’m sitting on the floor. I prop up my feet on any available surface – a friend’s coffee table, the dashboard of Somayya’s car, even the model sofas and glass tables in Macy*s furniture department. Even now, typing this entry, my feet are resting up on the seat of my chair, my knees bumping against my chin, my fingers spelling out typos galore as I try to maneuver my hands around my legs in order to reach the keyboard. I need to invest in a footstool.

Lying across the living room armchair like that, is it any wonder that sleep is constantly on my mind? And, just think, I don’t even have to feel guilty. Oftentimes, I turn my face into the back of the armchair and nap, the book resting on my stomach. Once awake, minutes or hours later, I continue reading from wherever I left off.

In between the guilt-free naps and guzzling of cranberry juice, I’ve found it is a bit unsettling to pick up Ray Bradbury’s novels and come across dog-eared pages, marked when I last checked out the book from the public library at least five years ago.

Bardbury’s Fahrenheit 451, especially, is filled with corners folded up from the bottom of the page to form little triangles now so smooth that, with the book tightly closed in my hand, I would barely have even been able to tell that the pages were marked had I not known to look for them. Either the book hasn’t been touched in the past five years, or the reader(s) after me appreciated the same passages and decided to indulge my need to mark them.

The thing is, I dislike jotting down notes in the margins of books, or highlighting passages, or underlining sentences that jump out to me. But, for as long as I can remember, every time I’ve come across a passage that strikes a chord with me, I absently fold up the bottom corner of the page and continue reading without pause. Rereading the same book much later, even if it has been years, the first thing I always do is check for dog-eared pages and, finding one, skim the page until I recognize why I had marked it so.

Rereading Fahrenheit 451 a couple of weeks ago, I came across a page I hadn’t marked back during high school, containing a passage I must have glossed over then with no more than a cursory reading, but which holds so much more significance now, especially in light of today’s date:

“Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll dig the biggest steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”

What do you see in your mirrors?

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