Have you ever read a book that made you feel something like happiness? Only you couldn’t really call it happiness, because happiness has a jump-up-and-down something to it, that this kind of feeling doesn’t have? It’s more a kind of happy that goes quiet. Stone cold silent. Because to speak it means to find words, and there just aren’t any made that cover the stillness of your heart as it feels this, whatever “this” sort of happiness, is.
When I was a child I would go silent. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a chatty child, because I clearly was the most chat-happy child that ever was at times, most especially when I was sugared up like a full tank of gas. I would think thoughts but not share them,sometimes because they were mine and keeping them to myself was like giving myself permission to have something only for me. I had sisters and a brother to share, share, share everything with. Clothes, toys, and even, at one point, my bed.
Sometimes I kept things to myself because others just didn’t get the thing I was thinking. They really, really, tried to and the trying sometimes felt painful to watch. True understanding can only happen in the first 5 seconds, either you get it, or you don’t, and those that don’t get it, try so hard they sometimes exhaust themselves and you. You usually end up pretending they understood to give them some relief.
The person who does get it, sinks down into the understanding so fast, it’s like they are not even with you anymore. Their face says they returned to a place where their memories are and that is the moment you find kinship. They get it. It isn’t about your moment, it isn’t even about theirs. It’s about knowing that you both have one, and it’s private and it’s shared, at the self-same time.
Anyway, when I would go silent, I would think thoughts I was never quite sure anyone else was having. Until I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee I wondered if I was broken in a very good way. A way others might not understand, but that I couldn’t give up. It was part of my head and my heart, in the place where they met half-way.
I feel that way when I read any book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I have written about it before, but this is my first attempt to get it so someone else might understand. It is like writing your heart onto paper, and hoping that 5 second person comes along.When I read Harper Lee for the first time, I realized those 5 second people exist. They are my people. They are the people I have to seek out, but they exist. So, I speak what I use to go silent about, because this “something like happiness”thing? It matters to the 5 second person more than breath.
I go silent when I read Harper Lee. I go silent when I read Catherine Ryan Hyde. It’s a place like happiness. I want to write something that does that. I want to be a writer like that, because I want to create something like happiness for someone else.
If I ever meet Catherine Ryan Hyde I will probably embarrass myself crying, or losing feeling in my legs. I would probably not be able to speak, but that’s ok. Something tells me she’s one of those 5 second types I was telling you about.