So I am going to do something really crazy right now and blog about my life. yes, it relates to books and my relationship with them, but not in the cut-and-dry or fangirl way I usually do. So you’ve been warned.
In my blog post last Friday, I mentioned that I am writing again because I am “going through some stuff.” Now you get to know what that stuff is.
I broke up with my boyfriend.
He was my first boyfriend. He was my best friend for four years, half of which we spent dating. I ended it. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make and I miss him every day. I had to accept that I couldn’t save him, but I had to save me.
The guilt that this decision caused is monumental. I haven’t been this depressed in a very long time. It doesn’t help when your mother and grandmother keep saying things that make you feel like a horrendous villain and keep you second guessing yourself into the wee hours of the morning.
This is hard enough.
I haven’t dealt with the guilt well. For some reason, I decided to do everything in my power to psychologically torture myself. There is a bunch of relationship paraphernalia in my room where I see it every day. My iTunes is a sadistic thing to hear.
Last Saturday night I decided to further this experiment by rereading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Though hands down one of my favorite books of all time, it was also a book I associated heavily with my former relationship. Parts of me are eerily like Anna, parts of my ex are eerily like St. Clair and we actually said a few of the stronger sentiments in the book to each other (before I read the book). Which brings me to the first point about the magic of books:
My first time reading Anna, it was like the universe suddenly opened up and said, “I understand.” The characters were great, the humor was fantastic, but it was so much more. Despite most of the major plot points having never happened in my life, it felt like Perkins had written my story. My fairy tale ending. I read it and saw myself and my relationship filled with familiar obstacles, was shown how to overcome them and was given an image of me and my then-boyfriend riding off into the sunset. It filled me with so much hope for our future that I could hardly breathe.
This is one of the powers that books have. Some of them can give us a reflection of ourselves that shows us that we are capable of so much more than we thought. Even when we are at our worst, sometimes there is a character just like us who overcomes odds we think would kill us, and it gives us faith to keep going. Anna did this for me, back then.
So you can understand why rereading Anna seemed like the perfect torture device. Except that I had forgotten one other power of books:
As much as we put ourselves into characters, the characters are not us. They are very rarely, if ever, perfect matches. Through books, you can experience the most emotional events and decisions made by someone who could be you through omniscient eyes. Thought processes are decisions are (hopefully) explained and rationalized. The emotions of the people involved are put on display in ways that they rarely are explored in the real world, and we, the onlooker, can evaluated them with all the facts in place.
As it turns out, Anna did not provide me with the kind of torture that I had been looking for. Instead, it provided me with a lens through which I could understand all the reasons why me and my ex weren’t Anna and St. Clair. Why we couldn’t be. And, strangely, enough, why that was okay.
I went to Anna looking for pain. What I found was the same sense of overwhelming hope I had found the first time–just a different type. I hadn’t destroyed my St. Clair–I’d mistaken him for someone else. He’s still out there, somewhere. I haven’t messed up the fairy tale just yet.
At the end of the day, books are another world into which we can escape. Whether we find ourselves in that world is up to us, and usually dependent on when we read the book. I just hadn’t realized how many incarnations of myself I could find in one book. I had though that, like a large portion of my iTunes, Anna was something that could never be heard in more than one association. I’d call that the norm, in fact. I’m just so glad this wasn’t true this time.
One day I will meet Stephanie Perkins and thank her for this book. Although, I suspect that will get awkward really fast, because I’ll either tackle hug her or drop to my knees and kiss her feet.
Please note that I’m not suggesting that Anna is going to have this effect on you, or actually any book. Anna is my special book, and I would pray that you are also lucky enough to have a book this special come to you in your time of need–whatever that need is. I’m also not saying that I’m not magically fixed. I’m just a little bit better than I was before.
Until this moment, I was taking for granted the every day magic that books bring to my life. I think its important to step back sometimes and recognize how powerful that magic truly is.
Thank you, books. Thank you, authors.
Now go read.
Have you ever had a magical experience with books? Is there a book that always makes you hope or smile? Tell me about it in the comments!