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The Walk to Reading

July 11, 2017

My anxiety had bound me to the couch. I couldn't breathe; I was restless; I was desperately trying to find something on TV at 10pm on a Friday night (when the rest of the world was out living their lives) that would capture my attention long enough to calm me.

 

"Do you want to go for a walk?" Marc asked.

 

"What are you talking about? Now??" I said, confused.

 

"Yeah. Let's take a walk around the apartment." He grabbed my hand and with a look of pure certainty that this was a completely normal thing to be doing, he led me in circles around the apartment. Through every nook, every bathroom, all the while holding my hand. I giggled at how ridiculous this seemed, but also felt an overwhelming warmness flush over my heart. How amazing is this man, and how crazy is it that this actually works, I thought.

 

We settled into the bedroom. I had a fear of turning on the TV. I imagined branches from the trees of a horror movie stemming from the TV set to grab me and grip me in anxiety like it had on the couch.

 

Instead, I flung open my nightstand and found myself holding an old, withered paper back. Now, I didn't go for the refined lady of "Gone With the Wind" or something poignant like "Lean In." Instead I went for the trashy whore that was easily attainable, a guilty pleasure, and was sure to make me feel good with not much emotional attachment. That book was "White Girl Problems" by the fictional Babe Walker.

 

The book was given to me by a friend years ago and had sat in my nightstand since. This particular night, however, it suddenly began burning a hole in the drawer like it knew this was its big chance to shine.

 

It's an exaggerated work about a privileged trust fund girl in her twenties living in LA and struggling to find her footing in the world, all the while battling emotional and mental health issues. I couldn't help but read and think, Phew! What I'm going through is easy compared to the problems she has!

 

It was a great escape-- to be immersed in any other world but my own. I finished in 3 days and was hungry for the next.

 

I didn't know it then, but it was the start of a beautiful relationship with reading, and also with the book store.

 

I hadn't been to a book store in years. I passed through to get gift cards or a children's book, but I hadn't "experienced one" in a long time.

 

Like pretty much anything I did at this time of my life, the experience started with panic. How the f*** am I supposed to find anything in this place?! I thought.

 

Suddenly my senses began to ease up enough to take in my surroundings. The stillness of customers moving glacially through the aisles as they read each spine. The smell of paper that brought me back to the weekly trips to the book store with my dad. The realization that while my life was consumed with grief, there were thousands of topics out there for me to explore, all housed right in this store.

 

I left with three books, all of different genres, and felt so confident with my new strategy to tackle my anxiety.

 

What started as a walk around in circles turned in to a major step forward in my healing.

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November 24, 2018

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Rittenhouse Square

Philadelphia, PA, USA

©2018 by Gianna DeMedio