Finding & Forgetting
When my older sister first went to school, she learned how to read. Every day she would run back home, throw her bookbag down, and pull out a new book from the school library like The Mysterious Benedict Society or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. She sat next to me, explaining the story. As I was only a 3-year-old, the symbols on the page made no sense to me, and there were no pictures to help fill the gaps in my mind. All I knew was that if my older sister was excited, I was excited. And reading excited her.
I would wait for her to come home every day, smiling by the window when the car pulled into the garage. I remember the sound of the door swinging open as she stepped inside and unzipped her bag to reveal a new book. I would almost topple over her to see what book she brought, what new story, what new world. She would open the book slowly, teasing my excitement, and begin reading to me. The pages flipping as the story thickened. Slowly, I began picking up the words, the symbols joining to form words and thoughts in my head. My sister advanced quickly in her comprehension, as did I. She became my teacher and taught me all different types of literature – fantasy, non-fiction, and poetry. Whatever she learned in the classroom, she relayed to me after. I quickly learned to read at the age of three, and this was the foundation for my love for communication.
“I’m older than you, so I should get more books,” my sister would proudly state with her arms crossed in the middle of the library isle. This logic seemed pretty flawless to me at the time, but I was willing to put up a fight. Our stack of books was nearing the limit, so we had to make the tough decision on which books to sacrifice this week.
“I’m younger, so I need to read more to catch up with you!” I would say stubbornly and grab more books to place them on our already too-tall stack. Our dad would tell us it was time to leave and we needed to reach a consensus on which books we were taking home, reminding us we would come back the next week. Of course, my older sister won the argument every time, but she would always agree to let me read her books.
My sister and I spent our weekends at the library, reaching the twenty-book limit. As the years passed on, we fell in love with different series like The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson. We joined Goodreads, Wattpad, and anywhere else where we could explore our love for reading and writing. We would wake up early in the summer to write our own stories and publish them chapter by chapter. We created communities and friendships online and bonded with others over our love for characters and their stories.
Unfortunately, I lost my love for reading and writing for a couple of years when life became too hectic with extracurriculars and tests. Getting into college was the goal. Grades mattered more than passions. While reading and writing had been my passion for a while, I was told that they weren’t things that I could realistically go to in my future. I remember looking through all of the majors offered at different colleges and being amazed that there were so many career choices. Ultimately, I chose the “safe” route with a pre-med biology degree, in hopes of getting a secure and well-paying career. I thought the part of my life with reading and writing was over. I had to be realistic and mature. There was no time for silly things like writing stories. On top of that, my sister, who always persuaded me to read the next book and follow my passions, had also left for medical school, and I lost touch with our shared passion. Everything at that time had pushed away my books into a corner of my room, the dust collecting, waiting to be picked up again.
It took a few more years until I decided to pick reading and writing back up. I realized at Georgia Tech, writing was a valuable tool, as many of my classmates and peers did not know how to write effectively. I applied to be a consultant at the CommLab. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back, it is one of the best decisions I made. Once I got the job, I was able to meet people who had the same love for communication that I did, and that sparked my forgotten childhood passion. I picked up reading again and made it a conscious effort to incorporate it into my daily life. I changed my career path to engineering and continue to incorporate communication aspects into my studies and career. No matter how busy things get with running simulations and analyzing data, I always have a reminder of this aspect of my life.
Writing this has been one of the first times I have written creatively and freely. It makes me nostalgic of my childhood. I wish I could relive those days and go back to reading as much as I did before. I wish I had never given up reading and writing even for a second. I think about all the stories I missed, and all of the creativity lost. I know reading will always be my first love, my favorite thing to do with my sister, and no matter what, my favorite pastime. Nothing can change that.