I have a confession to make. I haven't read a book for more than a year. In the five months that I spent crossing Africa, I didn't read so much as a trashy magazine. At a high level, my brain was undergoing some kind of indescribable transformation; a shift in values and attitudes, perhaps. Still, I could feel my brain soften, my vocabulary shrink. My trip across America was no better (psychological trauma, yes. Intellectual stimulation, no); conversations less frequent and often shallow on account of time constraints.
Upon my return to civilization, I struggled for words as though English were not the language that had carried me through my first 33 years.
Now, I've got three books to read this weekend for school. Like, full books. That hurts! I had to run down to the corner book store this morning to buy a pocket dictionary, which I frequently reference as I make my way through the inches of stacked text. Now, I'm thinking that I might need a latin-english dictionary, too.
I worried at first that getting back into this level of reading would be like when you go to the gym for the first time after a period of...laziness. And you try to press the same weight as the last time that you were there, as though your muscles hadn't atrophied...and then you can't walk or lift anything for a few days.
But, its not like that at all.
It's more like...going to the 7-11 on a really hot day and getting a nice, cold slurpee. Once you get past the initial (but temporary) brain freeze, the sensation of the icey crystals gliding over your tongue and then down your throat is refreshing and so, so satisfying.
Come to think of it, Columbia has other similarities to 7-11. For starters, the dated and not particularly fashionable interior of the building - which seems to be the standard decor for places of higher learning (let's just call it 'understated'). And then there is the more exciting element of there being a lot of really good stuff to choose from. It's hard to know when to stop; I'm taking 50% more credits than I technically need to (but, if you know me, that won't come as a surprise). I walked down the aisle of the curriculum, grabbing all of the goodies that I could fit in my pockets; a course on Politics and Economics in Brazil, another on Politics and Economics in Cuba, Political Development in the Third World, Politics of History and Reconciliation, and so on. So far, I think it will be plenty to satisfy my appetite for the next few months.