I read somewhere that if a child is surrounded by books s/he will fall in love with literature eventually.
When we moved from our grandparents’ home to our own, my childhood spent on quiet yet adventurous streets and fields ceased and became an observative indoor activity. That’s when my imagination shifted from my body to my mind. I started to live in my head, in images and thoughts. I enjoyed my solitude amongst my siblings. Somehow I left my outspoken, spontaneous and energetic me in those chalk-beautified streets, the warrior child, hollering her life force into the sunsets and feeling joyous in her skin.
My parents were visible in the colossal shelves we had. I would spent hours gazing at my mother’s book covers, the colours, the words, the stories, and drift off. I would do the same with my father’s endless rows of VHRS. I had always been a visual person. And I would look at these wondrous objects and find my parents there, their tastes, their little pieces of solitary happiness. I wanted to follow them.
I remember my mother reading a new book every week, a crime story, a thriller, a romance, during her breakfast, drinking coffee, in her own world, drifting off and smile inside of herself. I loved looking at her like that. It gave me a home. A sense of belonging, fortitude, solace. Recognition. My mother, the bibliophile. And I would read the backs of her books. And we looked into one another.
Then there were my father’s black-and-white movies. Our home was an open space and you could hear all the famous voices, the old Hollywood ones, but mostly Totò’s, and most importantly, my father’s laughter. It was a rare thing. A precious moment. When my father let go and laughed. I loved the sound of it, the release, the shortlived carelessness. In these hidden snap-shots, I found life and related to it.
I started to take some of my mother’s books out of their dusty rows and some of my father’s films out of theirs and inspected them closely, trying them on, and if I liked them, I would fill my own room with them, leaving gaps in my parents’ shelves.
I became a cinephile like my father. I stepped into my mother’s bibliophile shoes and the stories she devoured. I became a part of their world, a better one, and I felt at ease. Destined to be there. Spread out. Discover it for myself. Inspiration. Motivation. To create. And I reached my own world.
That’s when I started to make two rooms out of one, blasting the walls, carving out other realms, multiplying space and ideas, words and images, creating life in my room to accompany my own to feel connected to sunrises too.
“Portrait of Helene Klimt” by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)