Feeling Naked While Fully ClothedRachael Berkey

Do you ever walk out of the house, look around with confusion and that gut-wrenching feeling that something just isn’t right?

I do. It doesn’t happen often because every time it does, it’s so traumatizing that I vow never to make the mistake again.

That’s right. I got out of the house and all the way to public transportation or an empty bar where I was waiting for my friends, dug into my purse for a book and only after the digging turned frantic did I realize the awful truth.

I had left the house without a book.

These times, they are traumatic for me. I don’t do well with nothing to do. I’m libel to strike up conversation with inappropriate people, like the adorable couple obviously on a date who desperately want to ignore me while I attempt to make small talk. I might be caught staring off into “space” except that space is occupied by a woefully attractive boy who is flattered, at first, that he has provoked such adoration and then is creeped out when I don’t return his smile. He is merely breathing the air that I have chosen to stare at in that moment in time. I don’t do it on purpose. I can’t help myself. I just don’t know how to kill time without using Harry Potter, Kilgore Trout or Matilda as my weapon.

It’s part of the reason I so painstakingly always make sure there is a book in my purse. I’m so much more willing to be the laughing stock of a bar because I’m staring at my book instead of flirting with the guy trying to catch my eye than any other kind of laughing stock.

I was the girl who won contests like “Most Avid Reader” in the 8th grade. To make it worse (although I’m still rather proud of my win), one of my classmates called out my name in a loud stage whisper before the teacher did, prompting an auditorium of laughter as I went up to accept the certificate.

I once traveled on an overnight train (because the train only goes through Cleveland at 3 AM… no, seriously, check out the Amtrak schedule) to Springfield, MA to see my brothers with one small duffel bag of clothes and one large, sports equipment-sized duffel filled with books. My logic is always “BUT WHAT IF I FINISH THE BOOK I’M READING NOW!?” which almost never wins me points from whoever the poor relative is who foolishly offers to help me carry my bags.

The point is, I am simply one of those people who cannot be without reading material. I will read the ingredients on the cereal box at the kitchen table if it means that my brain and eyeballs are occupied.

I worry sometimes that this behavior is stunting my growth. I’m not really one of those people who goes to a new restaurant or bar and makes friends.

Then I remember…

I don’t really care if I don’t make friends with the people I’m silently judging for their inane topic of conversation. Rereading the journey that Ender takes from Earth to Battle School and beyond is much better than chiming in on who got the last rose on last night’s episode of The Bachelor.

I save those conversations for my friends on Facebook anyways.

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  1. I am the same way! and while multiple family and friends have suggested that I buy a Kindle or Nook I can’t bring myself to do it. There is just something about the feeling of having a book in your hands that is as much a part of the reading experience as the book itself.

    • I completely agree. I want an ereader for commuting and traveling but for everyday reading, I can’t imagine not having paper in my hands.

  2. Kindle is the answer to your problems.

  3. I recently moved across the country and it’s been gut wrenching to know that I’m separated with my books–it was a hard decision to make as to which books came with me on the plane (divided between checked and carry-on; another toughie) and which ones are being shipped to me. The first thing that I did when I moved to my new city was check out the local bookstore.

  4. I totally agree! I keep my Google Reader stocked full of blog subscriptions and unread articles just in case I forget my book, so I can have something not awkward to do with myself on the subway twice a day!

  5. This is so true! I hate leaving the house without bringing anything to put my attention to specially if I am expecting a lot of “alone time waiting for someone/thing”. I always bring with me a book or if I forgot a book, I always look for a bookstore nearby and read anything. One good thing to bring as well is a small notebook. You can write anything that you have just pondered about while you are staring on somewhere else or you can doodle your emotions :)

  6. Gosh, this is SO me. And if I happen to forget a book, thank goodness for the Kindle app on my phone!

  7. Holy crap, this is TOTALLY me. I feel so exposed and nervous without a book to fall back on. I never regret having a book weigh down my bag and not needing it, but not having one when you do? PURE TORTURE. I’ve always been an avid reader. In grade school, my mom would have to hold my book hostage so i would do my homework. She’d give it back when I was done. THE WRITTEN WORD IS MY LOVER!! :D

    And I absolutely LOVE “Ender’s Game”. Actually read it in Jr high in class. One instance where I didn’t mind doing homework for a change! ; )

  8. Ender’s Game is on of my favorite reads! I do this exact same thing as well lol one summer in elementary school they had one of those contests where you got people to sign up to pay a certain amount per book you read that summer and since it was reading some people put up quite a bit because they didnt know me lol then at the end of the summer they wouldnt pay because they didnt believe id read the 53 books I listed even after my mom reassured me i had. my family will tell anyone, once im in a book a natural disaster wont shake me out of it lol. if i dont have a book i will also read whatevers handy: cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, condiment bottles, menus, the posters on the wall. and stare at random people without realizing it too if i go off in my own little world lol. I read your blog going thats me thats me through the whole thing as im sure many other people have so you are not alone :)

  9. I love ender’s game!!!

  10. I know the feeling exactly! I stayed at my friend’s house last night (unplanned) and their face was a picture when I pulled Pride and Prejudice out of my bag because I was sleeping in another room and got bored. I had packed by bag for a girly movie night and had brought a book with me – they weren’t used to that.

    I hate waiting on someone without a book and have probably read the little cardboard mini-menus that sit on Costa tables a hundred times out of sheer boredum.

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