Reading the cereal boxes: On memory and text

It’s a practice that I still have to this day.  I read cereal boxes.  I read the packaging on tampons, toothpaste, mouthwash, and dog food cans.  I read the text on floss containers, though there’s not much length to that.  Still, I will read the same text, over and over again, while I brush my teeth.   Ever since I was a little girl, I have read anything I can get my hands on and anything that can occupy my very active mind.

Mine is the mind that requires me to do 5 things at once to get any one thing done well or at all.  I have lists on top of lists, which also require that I read and re-read to make sure that I can cross things off.  I have one list that’s been going since 2013 or so and is now 15 pages long.  On occasion, I re-read that.

I read instruction manuals, even when the instructions are intuitive, but I generally don’t read them deeply and end up going back, if it’s a tech manual so I can figure out the cool stuff.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say that my mind is active.  God willing, we all have active minds. A better metaphor might be that my mind is voraciously hungry for information.  I asked my doctor for references to endometrial polyps the other day; I will read the studies … right after I read the box in which my lovely berry tea is packaged in the morning, but before the New Yorker piece of fiction for this week.

I don’t know how this hunger for language grew within me, a hunger that cannot be quenched as that of the body can.  I remember very clearly the first time I was reading a book with my mother, a book with Clifford, the red dog, when the words started to become mine.  If I remember correctly, it was followed by a book with Curious George.  We sat on the deep beige couches of the old house, when the carpet was still fringed and multicolored like a deep carpet of grass.  The seats were covered in plastic.

There’s something about the richness of memory that comes to me in association with writing a text or reading it.  The taste of that cup of tea on a morning with my husband, looking out the garden window?  I can summon it because of the act of reading, though I don’t recall the words I read.  It’s as if the words are supplanted with the moment.  They are a link into a memory.

I wonder, if there are others, who are as hungry for text of whatever sort and how it connects to memory for others.

#twt, #16of52, #52essays2017

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