Friday, December 2, 2011

Heaven is a place where you can read all the time

When I was in my 20s, I lived in a huge apartment building in Manhattan. One of my memories from that time is walking up the block in the early morning, heading for the subway and work.

Along the way, there was something wonderful to see. In a ground-floor studio there lived an old couple, a man and woman, who enjoyed reading. No, I mean they really enjoyed reading. Every single time I passed their window, they were reading.

If they had a curtain, they never closed it. You could always see them. They sat at matching desks that had slanted surfaces like drawing boards. The desks were positioned against a wall on the right, and over each hung a lamp that focused a bright beam of light on the slanted surface. The man and woman were always sitting at these desks, reading.

In the morning I saw them at their desks, reading. When I got home after dark, there they'd be in that bright pool of light, lost in their reading.

I suppose this might seem depressing to some but what I felt when I saw them was envy. The purpose of life is to read. It's always been that way for me. I was jealous. I couldn't believe I had to go to a job every day while they got to stay home and read. They were living the life and I wanted in.

To this day, I think of them now and then and smile. I'll bet they read on the day they died. My only regret is that I never spoke to them. But there was no opportunity. They were always . . . reading.