Monday, May 9, 2011

Freedom to Read

One of the reasons I moved in the past was my desire to be myself. There were those who did not like parts of me and wanted me to change to be more in line what was popular, what women should be like and what they saw was more to their liking. I would spend endless hours trying to explain who I was and was always surprised that the arguments I raised had no effect on them. This time, I moved from Redding because it was the family members that I loved and cherished who wanted me to remain the mother they envisioned and not the person I really was. I felt since my children were middle-aged now, I was under no obligation to be who they wanted me to be.

When I was married to the father of my children, he resented the fact that I read. I worked a full time job and often had a second job to supplement the earnings of the family; but I always found time to read. It was a joy to open a book at the end of the day and read before going to bed or to wake up early before anyone else and to open a book. I also wrote and continuously keep a journal. He did not read and spent hours watching television. I tried to watch it with him as he wanted me to do, but I would end up wanting to scream. Reading was not his thing and I understood that; however he could not understand that reading was essential to me. Watching television and movies was not. I tried to compromise my time so that I would watch television for a few hours but could not stand to watch it more than that. I would end up going to my room and read or do something else.

I am very lucky now. I have the time to read and write and enjoy the things I wanted to do when I was raising my boys and working. I no longer live in one room as I did in Redding and can wander around the apartment at will. I get up in the morning and open the blinds to let the day in although here in Portland it is usually not sunny but overcast. I woke up early so much in the morning to read that I can't sleep in past 6 am. There are several friends who do the same and often call me to see hello. I got a call from my friend, Ted, who is in New York City. That city never sleeps. He is very happy that I moved to Portland. He will be coming in a few days to see another writer who is having an author event at Powell's and I promised to be there later this week.

I can't believe the number of things to do here in Portland. There are bookstores everywhere as well as libraries. Both examples are in easy walking distance from this apartment. There is also flowers and wonderful trees. On Wednesday when Ted comes in, I am going to drive him all over Portland drinking coffee and looking at different things he wants to see. He does not know Portland anymore than I do.

Although I don't have any library books, I have plenty to read. I can read without interference from anyone. Joseph Gold in his wonderful book, "Read For Your Life", (Godwit:1990) states: "Where one spouse resents any separateness or independence in the other, he may very well resent her reading, or discount its importance. This kind of attitude produces furtive or guilty reading, or rations the activity, or spoils it in other ways." That was how it was in my marriage and how it was when I would sneak a look at books on breaks or my lunch hour at my regular work site.

Luckily, most friends I do know read as much as I do and love books. I don't have to sneak in books as I used to do. I also don't have to hide my love of music as that is the main reason I have the Internet other than blogging and reading. I rarely watch television except the news. I do love to listen to music and subscribe to two 24 hour services that play the music that I like. I listen to NPR occasionally. When I was a teenager, I never told my friends I loved opera and would listen to it on Saturdays when I would turn it on very low. My radio was a FM/AM clock radio. Now, I have a decent sound system hooked onto my computer in my office. I also listened to classical music as a kid late at night so my friends would never know. I love New Age, Minimalist, folk music, and music from other cultures. Again, most people I know do the same.

It is a shame that the pressure we feel from other people can create problems that we have to run and hide so we can be who we really are and not who others want us to be. I know someone who loves the Grateful Dead but can't listen to them in his home except in his car going and coming back from work. His wife said she would leave him if he plays them in the house. I know another man who loves to wear women's clothes but has to check into a hotel so he can do it ever so often because his wife says she doesn't want to see it in their home. I could not read books unless it was on the sly. I also could not write unless I did it when my husband was asleep and my kids didn't want to hear about my writing or even when I was published. When I was active politically, I had to do it in the shadows.

I am in another place now. I am not hiding. I look at the calendar and see the months slipping away and feel that I don't have time to hide who I am. I also want to enjoy my life while I am able to care for myself. If that aspect of my life makes people unhappy, I am sorry for that. I know that I want others to be themselves and to do whatever it is that will make them enjoy life as long as it is legal. For me, it is a matter of the freedom to read, to write and to do the things that make life enjoyable.

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