Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Reading Autobiography I

"Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and
the gleaming cities, and the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was
an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world
like blue mantles beneath the stars.
-Robert E. Howard

Some people begin their essays with a profound and complete quote, summarizing an idea in one sentence, or simply saying 'look how much I know'. What I placed above is half a quote, words that begin the epic tale of a thick muscled and melancholy warrior, Conan of Cimmeria. I tacked the words up there not because I see myself as well built or even sullen. The tone, the words, open the reader to a world filled with imagery, color, fantasy, and adventure. They open the mind like an eye facing the dawn. That is how I always like to read- especially as an adolescent.

As a teenager, I suffered through being shy, introverted, and generally unhappy. To this day I cannot listen to 80's music in a good mood. I had no confidence, and lived under the thumb of over-protective, strict Cuban parents. I am not sure when it started, where my personality reached out to these heroes of old, but it did. What I do remember is reading in 8th grade (yes, middle school) the beast called The Once and Future King. Most kids in my class simply called it "The 624 page monster." With the same fear I started it, not sure what or who I would find.

Therein I found a world filled with honor-bound knights fulfilling quests and dwelling in the mists of forests waiting for the dragon, the grail, or the maiden. I admired them, and looked around my world for a round table. I found none. Perhaps that is where my rejection of reality first started. I despised the world for being so lifeless, so colorless, so technologically and mythologically bland. A barrage of fantasy books filled the void. Paramount among them The Dragonlance Chronicles (to this day volume two Dragons of Winter Night is the only book I read IN a movie theater) which was published by the sages who had created the Koran of rules by which our gang of social misfits lived by- Advanced Dungeon's and Dragons role playing game. Within that trilogy and those rule books dwelled a land which I considered to hold my true citizenship- regardless of being born in Newark, New Jersey.

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