I started first at the age of six and with the highest of expectations. My fondest desire in life at the time was to read the Bible and the Sunday comics or, as I called them back then, the funny papers. Unlike Mrs. Happy, I had not figured out how to read by then. I could recite both the alphabet and a number of children’s books—and even turn the pages at the right time—but I had not figured out that written letters could translate to spoken sounds, which could translate to verbal communication. It didn’t take long. Once my teacher explained things, I was all over it. I sounded out every grouping of letters I could find anywhere I could find them. I felt a rush of pride and accomplishment every time I figured out a word I hadn’t seen before.
After I learned to read, I experienced other periods of excitement. I learned about exceptions to the phonetic rules (to this day, I believe they should be spelled thay). I learned about grammar. I expanded my vocabulary. I discovered storytelling techniques and literary devices. I read poetry. I’ve learned so much.
Do I still love to read? Absolutely. It’s one of my greatest joys. The mechanics of it have become second nature. I still sometimes get excited when I encounter a new word, but that doesn’t happen very often. Watch me read at the age of six, then watch me at 33 and you might think I’ve lost the excitement I once had. The fact is, I care more about a well-constructed sentence than I do word pronunciation. A cohesive paragraph that explains a rich character who contributes to an intricate storyline that expresses more than it actually says gives me even more satisfaction. Is my love of reading gone? No. It’s deeper than ever.
This is why I frown when people say “no one stays in love forever” or “love doesn’t last” or, more subtly, “being in love doesn’t last.” It’s true that a romantic relationship has an initial excitement that doesn’t last. The rewards don’t end with that initial excitement. In fact, to stop there is like learning to sound out words but never learning to understand what they communicate. So much joy is possible.