I can read again.
Sometime this past December, something in my brain seemed to click. I can’t explain it, I’d done nothing differently. Just a few weeks earlier, reading had been as hard as usual for me ever since that virus damaged my brain five years ago. But this one day, desperate for entertainment that wasn’t the news/Instagram/YouTube ad nauseam, I opened the Kindle app on my phone.
I might not be able to stay there long, but anything would be better than my worn-down Internet trails. And for the first time in almost exactly five years, the dizziness and nausea just… didn’t come. It felt a bit odd, sure, but not directly unpleasant. I read for half an hour or so, then reluctantly closed the app, not wanting to push my luck. My pause was short-lived, though — I couldn’t keep myself away. It felt like breathing again. It felt like coming home, after half a decade away.
You see, reading and writing is something I’ve always done. I actually can’t remember not knowing how to read. One of my earliest memories is sitting on a pink bean bag, listening to Disney stories on a walkman and reading the accompanying book, while the house I grew up in was built up around me. I could sit there for hours, lost in that first, innocent infatuation with words.
There’s a TV show called Dickinson, about the American poet Emily Dickinson. It’s modernized and witty and wild, and pretty surreal at times (which I love), clearly borrowing tricks from what Moulin Rouge did so well back in the day. Dickinson also has its problems, and it won’t be for everyone, but there was this one scene that gave me an experience I can’t stop thinking about. And my dilemma is this: part of the experience was my surprise, which you won’t get if you read this before watching it. But I’ll go ahead anyway, and let you decide for yourself, so: brief spoilers ahead, especially for season two, episode six.
A little context: Emily Dickinson was probably, very probably, queer. The show is certainly based on that theory, focusing on her romantic relationship with Sue, a childhood friend who marries Emily’s brother (both in real life and in the show). In this particular episode, Emily and Sue’s relationship has been strained for a while. Emily has also been connecting with a man, someone who wants to publish her poems, but whose attention also seems more personal.
There’s something about the year’s equinoxes and solstices that I’m so drawn to. I like how they mark the way the world moves, how the earth and the sun keep dancing around, almost like people, sometimes close together, sometimes far apart.
As I live in a place with four distinct seasons (though some of you would definitely laugh at our summers!), it’s nice to mark how they change. The winter solstice feels especially important. We have polar nights here, which means that from December 2nd until January 10th, the sun is too far below the horizon to see it at all — and those dates only apply to particular places in the city, so many houses won’t see the sun for even longer. But the winter solstice is a logical, emotional reassurance that the season has turned and the sun will come back.
The other day I had to go through some old blog posts of mine. It was both endearing and awkward to see myself call readers “darling” and “kitten” (I always was a sucker for endearments), post outfit photos, and recommend everything from skin care to books to life philosophy without hesitation. I remember being that Maria. She was sweet, and young, and fond of pink.
Most of all, reading those old posts I realized how much I miss blogs. Not just my own, but the whole world of them. With the notable exception of sewing blogs, which is still a thing, there aren’t many left anymore. It’s all videos now or, if we’re lucky, a longish Instagram caption. My still virus-addled brain is thankful for videos, but… I miss the words.