The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
– Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
Yesterday, I wrote about the first vignette I wrote in a serious to make up my reading autobiography. I’m completing my G11 students’ benchmark project along with them. I went back to the vignette today and revised and edited. It’s close to where I want it. I’m sure it will be made stronger in the soft places when we take it to writer’s workshop. For today, though, it is what I know.
Where I Started
The chair’s gone.
I’m not sure when it left us. My grandparents have never had a garage sale and my uncles were all well beyond the age when they lived in college housing collecting furniture when the chair departed.
All I know is it’s gone.
My last memories are of the shiny brown leather beginning to crack on the recliner’s arms.
Decidedly thrifty, but never one to appear the pauper, my grandmother must have decided the advent of these cracks heralded the chair’s demise.
It was a recliner stationed in the corner of the living room or family room (I’ve never learned the difference).
Though I was read to frequently and in many places as a child, this chair was the geographic center of my literacy.
Before bedtime, my grandfather would say, “How about a book, Zac ole pal?”
Footy-pajamaed, I would crawl into his lap as we read about the elephant in the bathtub, the poky little puppy or the monster at the end of the book.
I knew my grandmother would be reading to me again once I got to bed, but that didn’t stop me for pleading for “one more book.”
Grampa knew Gramma would be reading too, but acquiesced, “Alright, bud. I suppose we have time for one more.”
“Oh, Ted,” Gramma would say in that tone that let me know Grampa and I had gotten away with something.
In the echo of memory, propped up by family myth, I remember when my Grampa asked if I was following along with him as he read.
Though not new (books, like the Lincoln Logs and Light Bright were hand-me-downs from my dad and uncles), the book we were reading was one new to the chair’s regular rotation.
“Are you reading along?” he said.
“Uh-huh,” I said.
“Well, what’s that word?” he asked.
I read it.
“Well, I’ll be. Jean! Jean, Zachary’s reading.”
Perennially drying her hands with a dish towel, my grandmother entered the room.
“Good for him.”
I had no knowledge that that moment would signal the end of the chair and Grampa and me reading before bedtime.
Sometimes, I’ll be visiting and my Grampa will be reading with my cousins or my little brother. In those moments, I want to warn them to stay quiet, not to let on that they’re following along.
But that would be mean.
Instead, I leave them to the elephant in the bathtub, the poky little puppy and the monster at the end of the book.