I Haven’t Read a Book in About Ten Years

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This will come as a shock to some – “WHAT? Adrienne hasn’t read a book?! How can this be possible when all she talks about are books?”

Because ten years ago, I was about thirteen. Because ten years ago, all I wanted to do was read. Because ten years ago, I was less stressed. Because ten years ago, all I had to focus on was the book in my hand.

A lot of my old habits are still in place today. I still carry a book with me everywhere, and I never buy a new purse unless it passes the Book Test (can a standard book fit inside it). I still read when I have spare moments, such as waiting in line at the grocery store or when I am waiting for someone. However, I don’t enjoy books like I used to.

I’ve always been a fast reader. But the older I get, the more I realize that my reading speed is slowing down. There are hundreds of excuses why. And the truth is that sometimes I would rather spend time with my friends than read a book. The book will always be there. That moment with my friend will not be. So, I guess you could say it’s a priority shift.

Furthermore, the people who truly love books won’t be on the Internet telling you because they are too busy reading! I love books, sure I do. But sometimes (a lot of times) I get distracted by the Internet and its sparkly world of social media. Now I am more likely to look at page numbers than I was ten years ago, because now my time constraints are greater. I read a lot of children’s books for multiple reasons: I am studying to be a children’s librarian, children’s books are more fun to me, and, in most cases, there are less pages. It takes me two weeks to read a children’s book, whereas it would probably take me less than a month to read a 500-page adult book. Frankly, I am not ready to enter into the adult world yet, but that is another post.

It has been ten years since I fully savored a book, tasted it and let it consume me. I don’t cry as much when I read books anymore, and big part of that is because I am not immersed in the story as I once was. In the age of the Internet and adult life, I am not surprised. But reflecting on this certainly does make me stop and realize what I am missing.

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Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

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“I spent 20 years trying to get out of this place. I was looking for something I couldn’t replace. I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known.”

That Bon Jovi/Jennifer Nettles song stuck with me when I first moved back to Pittsburgh. Except in my mind, I was singing about Ohio, the place I just left. That I would go home to Ohio and everything would be okay. That I was never really leaving it.

However, as time went on, the more I realized I was singing about Pittsburgh every time that song came on the radio and I cranked it up as loud as I felt comfortable. “There’s only one place they call me one of their own.”

And that’s this tiny town in Western Pennsylvania.

Tonight, I went to Theology on Tap, where basically you drink beer and talk about God. Sounds like a pretty cool gig. Well, I always put it off because I didn’t want to enter back into that world again, the world I tried for 18 years to escape. Plus, some past hurts and grievances played into it that I didn’t want to confront. But tonight, I actually had an open Wednesday, so I decided to go.

I had a blast. The speaker talked about love and fear and how his life’s journey took such a long-winded path and eventually led him to faith. I took a lot from that talk. But even more than that, I connected with people I haven’t talked to in a long time. And I learned something. I can try to run away from my hometown, and I can try to run away from the Pittsburgh area. But the reality is that even if I end up moving back to Ohio, I am still from Pennsylvania first.

Who says you can’t go home?

Love Isn’t All I Need, But I Do Need It

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Last night, two of my coworkers and I had a movie night. Like any sensible 20-somethings, we watched Frozen (don’t hate). Olaf is my favorite character (and Sven). Olaf is one of the sweetest characters in that whole movie, and for all his goofiness, he is packed full of wisdom. For example, let’s just talk about the entire scene when Hans has left Anna to die of cold. Olaf shows up to save the day, lighting a fire at risk to his own personal safety. Anna laments that she doesn’t know what love is, and Olaf says, “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.” That’s big stuff for a little snowman that hasn’t been alive very long. And then he tells Anna, as his nose drips off his face, “Some people are worth melting for.”

When I got home after the movie night, still pondering these words, I thought about my whole anti-romance kick that I’ve been following for years. I kept saying, “I don’t want to get hurt again.” I love people. I love my parents, my siblings, my grandma, my extended family, my friends, and my dog. But all that love comes with a risk.

Angel died last year. I loved her with all my heart and that was the first time she left me. It was a tempestuous (I love that word) year with my family. My friends are scattered all over the country. Anyone can leave you, anyone can be gone in an instant.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh, I tried not to get close with too many people. I would just be gone soon anyway. But I’m still here, and now I have so many people that are becoming close friends the more we hang out. Katrina came line dancing with me a few times and is one of my confidants, Shannon and I have adventures, Kristin understands my love for Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Disney movies, Alaina and I talk about children’s books, John texts me to see how I’m doing, Alex recommends books, and Phil helps me grow as a person. And those are only some of the amazing people I met in Pittsburgh.

Inspired by Olaf, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13. Everyone knows it: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Love is patient. I am not a patient person. Could I be patient for another person? I don’t know. Love is kind. Can I be a beacon of kindness for another person and treat them as he or she deserves? I don’t know. Love protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Can I do that? I don’t know.

Love is a risk. It’s always a risk. And the probability of falling in love again means I most likely will get hurt. My goal is to work on my trust issues to figure out if I can be the kind of love that trusts and isn’t ready to give up after five minutes. Or expect the man in my life to give up after five minutes.

So I asked myself, is love worth it? Is it worth the pain and heartache again? Yes, because I am better prepared. Yes, because I am more honest with myself. It probably will blow up in my face. But the chance to love and to open my heart to others is worth more than never having taken that risk at all. If it makes me a better person, it is worth it.

I need love. I want love. Falling in love is like jumping off a cliff when a pack of snarling wolves is after you: Sometimes you just have to do it.