Kanye said it best, as he so often does, “It’s been a shaky-ass year”. The first half of my 2018 came in huge waves: an emotional roller coaster that seemed never-ending. Many things in my life began to alter, including my relationships. Some evolving, being tested not by emotion, but distance. I lost relationships, deep and emotional relationships, ones that felt like puzzles finally complete, only to be torn apart and shoved in the back of the closet. The Kuber-Ross model for grief came, no matter how hard I tried to resist. Taking it’s time so that I may react to every part, showing the best and worst parts of my emotional state. The only thing I could do was go with the motions and the emotions that came with them.
I struggled to hold onto the relationships I thought would never change. I kept, though weak and unstable, my yoga practice. I try to commit, as best as I know how to a consistent meditation practice. But my relationship with reading was severed without my even noticing. I had become disconnected with books in a way that I never thought possible. Reading is part of the foundation that I am built on, and I was shocked to find that it had faded away without so much as an acknowledgment from myself.
Or maybe, I needed to finally approach my real relationships without the reliable escape that books have always given me. Every time I found the right page, I was allowed to leave my life, travel anywhere I wanted and feel every emotion that I could. I never gave my real life a chance, because I was busy living so many others. And because reading is such a part of me, myself and who I am, it knew. It knew that I needed to grow from this year. That my life, and the person I was becoming needed to be my full priority. My life was crying out for my attention, so reading gave it me.
Which is why, even after so many of my relationships this year have changed, I always knew that I could go back to reading. It is simply a relationship that evolves with me. As I begin to recognize this new person that this shaky year has made, I slowly begin to find my way to the neighborhoods where our relationship started; books and settings that are home, no matter where in life you read them. Opening new books that feel fresh not just from their glossy covers, but to a reader that is also new. No longer the same person, or reader that I was once was, I am able to continue to grow. While marking my margins and finding pieces of myself old and new, reading welcomes me back. Escaping is no longer a consolation prize for avoiding conflict and hiding from my problems. It is where I find strength in the World of Wakanda and my imagination on a fire escape in 1912 Brooklyn. It reminds me that the strongest relationship should always be the one you have with yourself.