The year of 100 books.


– Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Throughout 2016 and in the months into 2017 I have said that 2016 was the worst year of my life. Even though there were bright spots of beauty and life that happened that year, it was also a year full of loneliness and trauma. Really, the only way I was able to deal with all that I was going through, was reading.

Books have always been a crutch of mine, a source of stability and escape that I’ve sought out ever since I was kid. My mom always nurtured my love for reading and never censored the content that I read, which looking back on, was a huge blessing. Growing up, my family moved around a lot and as cheesy as it sounds, I found my home in the books I read, and the characters I grew up with. There are books that I read as a middle schooler or high schooler that I’ll still reread today because it takes me back to a sense of comfort and familiarity.

Last year though, reading became a lifeline, or a drug. I had dropped out of college and moved home at the beginning of the year, after a traumatic death happened in my family. My mental health was the worst it had ever been, and I was really overcome with depression. It was a struggle to get out of bed every single morning, and as soon as I would get home from work I would crawl right back in bed.

I was depressed and numb, and extremely lonely. So as always, I turned to books. I read with an intensity that I have never felt before. When I read, I become so enthralled in the world I’m reading about that the characters are able to make me feel the full spectrum of emotions that was missing from my every day life. I would read in every spare moment, riding in the car, while eating, on breaks at work, and until I went to sleep. I filled every moment I had to my self with words, as if I was afraid to be alone with my own thoughts.

My go to genre was fantasy novels, worlds so unlike my own with characters that had amazing powers and strength who would have to overcome ridiculous obstacles in order to survive. I love the “chosen one” concept, and romeo and juliet type love stories. I love warring kingdoms, and magical battles, I read it all.

There’s probably a conclusion  I could draw here about the strength of the characters I read giving me the strength to overcome my depression but that’s not really the conclusion I want to make.

Reading was the healthiest way I could escape my life. It was a door that was always open to me, and I don’t think I could’ve survived 2016 without walking through that door every day.

When I tell people that I’ve read 100 books in a single year, they’re so impressed and say things like “wow I wish I could read like you do, or had the time.” I usually say something like thanks, I love to read so it wasn’t a big deal. Really though, I want to tell those people that I hope you never get to the point that you need to escape your life as much as I needed to. I hope you can live with your thoughts without seeking someone else’s. I hope you can find strength in real friends, and not fictional ones.

But if you do get that point, let me know, I have plenty of book recommendations for you.

 

 

The in between.

The in between sounds like a place magical creatures lurk, or maybe where spirits go right after they die but before judgment is passed on them. Either way, it has an ominous feel to it and yet this is how I describe my current life, as living in the in between.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I’ve lived in the in between. I think the most obvious time of the in between was the summer before my freshman year of college. Everything was about anticipation, anticipating to start in a new city, with new people, in an entirely foreign situation. Also the anticipation of the goodbyes, the last time to hang out with high school friends, to last time to see my family for an extended period of time, and so on. That entire summer felt like an absence of time, in rifling through my memories it seems like my most vivid ones are from graduation, and then move in day. That summer is just another void in my brain.

Which damn referring to life as a void sounds like I live a shitty life, which I don’t. I just feel like I’m stuck in the in between, anticipating for something to happen without really knowing what that thing is. It makes it harder I think, than the in between from that summer, at least then I knew what I was waiting for. This time though, I live day in and day out in a predictable routine, working at a job that doesn’t challenge me, and not making any steps towards changing.

Wow this post is depressing me.

I wish I could say I was an achiever and that the thought of being stuck in the in between was enough motivation for me to get out of it but…it’s really not. I think the in between is safe, its predictable and comfortable but it’s also boring. and grey and listless. It’s where I’ve been for the past year through no ones fault but my own and that’s kind of a heavy thing to accept.

But accept it I will because the first step to getting out of the in between is knowing it well enough to navigate it. And let me tell you, I could draw a perfect map of the place.

First Kiss

The guy was blonde and he was definitely a fraternity pledge, which makes sense considering I was in a frat house, at a frat party, surrounded by frat dudes. I have no idea what his name was but I’m sure it was somewhere along the lines of a Jason, Matt, or Andrew. Actually typing the name Andrew seems right so maybe his name started with an A? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that this forgotten name blonde frat boy was my first kiss.

Romantic, I know.

I was 18 and a freshman in college, it was my first or second party EVER; my eye shadow was heavy and my flirt game was strong. I’d only had a couple of sips of alcohol before so chugging four lokos with my roommate gave me enough confidence to conquer the world. Which was how I ended up in some random dudes room, sloppily making out with Andrew(?)

I don’t remember if the kiss was any good or not, considering I was drunk for the first time and also having my first lip to lip contact, I’m sure it was awful. The clearest thing from this encounter that I can remember is that my eyes were wide open and I was actively thinking “this is my first kiss, so this is what kissing is? oh his eyes are closed, my eyes should be closed too right? but how can I close them when this is my first kiss! I need to see what’s going on!”

I also was very aware that at any moment this boy could open his eyes and catch me staring at him and realize that this was my first kiss and he’d, god forbid, laugh at me. But that didn’t happen and luckily, nothing else did that night either. It wouldn’t be until later that I realize going off with a boy you just met while drunk is not always the smartest thing to do, no matter how cute and nice they seem. (But that’s a lesson for another day)

I ended up seeing that boy randomly around campus for the next couple of months and then promptly forgot everything about him until this moment when I really had to strain my memory to come up with an image for him.

I can picture my younger self being extremely disappointed in this story. I mean your first kiss is supposed to be memorable right? You should at least, remember the guys name! Well sorry younger Kendyl, but you should really stop putting a lot stock into first experiences because they are almost always going to be very, very disappointing. (You really don’t want to know how losing your virginity goes, just get rid of any and all expectations now kid)

Really though, I wish I could tell my younger self that the first moments aren’t really going to matter, sometimes not even the last ones will. Milestones are relative, and you shouldn’t live life as if you’re checking things off of a list, because lists are boring and life isn’t always laid out neatly like that.

Sometimes your first kiss is in a loud frat house with a guy whose name might or might not be Andrew, and you probably couldn’t pick him out of lineup but that’s okay, because at least you got a blog post out of it right?

Deleting

Looking around my room I can spot only three sentimental items that I keep out; a framed picture of my dad, a bottle of bonfire ash from my first college homecoming bonfire, and a necklace from my first communion (please don’t be fooled into thinking this is because of religious reasons, I had that necklace hanging from my rearview mirror all throughout high school and only think of that every time I see it.) I don’t keep birthday cards, ticket stubs, or letters, I donated all my shirts from high school and college, and I don’t own a single high school yearbook.

I’m not someone who’s afraid to get rid of things. Whenever I go through my old journals and see all the ripped out pages I don’t mourn the loss of my adolescent thoughts, I know teenage Kendyl needed to tear up those pages as much as she needed to write them.

And yet I have started and deleted a countless number of blogs, and this frustrates me. Blogs are different than personal journals. I actually want people to read this, even if I’m just shouting to the void I want my shout to echo and not be snuffed out by that big white delete button. I want to commit to writing, no matter how shitty, embarrassing or just straight up bad it is.

Even with the countless number of blogs out there I don’t want to feel ashamed to be writing mine. So, this is my promise in attempt number one that I will not delete this blog. I might lose the pictures of my dad, I might break the bottle of ashes, and I might drop my communion necklace somewhere to never be seen again but this blog will stay on the internet.

At least, I hope it will.