friends of a different sort

1. alex

by Alex King

I have a rather lonely background. In my earlier years, I moved a lot. Too much to ever develop any friends. In prison, I learned to stay to myself, for reasons relating to survival. When I got out, I found I couldn’t connect well with others. I had led such an odd life, my views had become so unusual, that I always found myself to be an outsider. In lieu of actual, physical companions, I found friends within the press of written pages.

I recall clearly the onset of this shift. When I was very young, I would read things like Goosebumps and Animorphs. Those books were great, but left me dissatisfied. This persisted until, during our reading hour in class, I watched as a fellow classmate dove eyes-first into a thick tome. I sat and wondered what was inside the book. This desire to find out grew overnight into a nearly overwhelming longing.

The next day, I went to the library. Looking around, a title jumped out at me. Alice in Wonderland. I checked it out, and began a new life swimming in words, pages and ink. I began to read voraciously. Fantasy was my favorite. I read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Young Wizard series, and, a true masterpiece (in my opinion), The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. As I grew, though, fantasy wasn’t enough. My appetite began to grow past what fantasy could sate.

While behind bars, I happened along Plato’s works and fell instantly in love with logic. Desperation seized me. I needed more. Knowledge of this sort, modes of reasoning, was like a drug for me. Unfortunately, the place where I was at the time made getting this type of literature very difficult. I had to make do with light reading, random articles and other near-useless tidbits. It drove me insane, but I took what I could get.

Eventually, no amount reading was enough for me. I realized that I had stories of my own. Plots, characters and settings spun in my head. Feeling they deserved a voice of their own, I wrote. At first, it was just something to do when I had nothing else. Writing quickly built into an obsession unto itself. I wrote stories, poems, even lyrics. For a long time, I just couldn’t stop.

Driven by circumstantial loneliness and a natural curiosity, I discovered life within death. I found that books, motionless and silent, are teeming with vitality. Worlds within worlds, populated with people I called “friend”. They were a balm when I was in pain. They soothed my loneliness. They were my constant companions in an otherwise empty world.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Metallica performing “Turn The Page”


10 Responses to “friends of a different sort”

  1. September 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Alex – That is the best description of how important reading is to ones sence of well being i have ever read –
    Write On !!!

  2. 3 BobH
    September 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Two extreme approaches to access to books in juvenile detention:
    facility 1: books confined to the classroom because some kid blocked a toilet with a book
    facility 2: a lending library looking just like a school library

    and an approach closer to home for me: Echo Glen in WA has an Amazon wish list for books to be sent in. Every couple of months I pick out 15 – 20 books and send them (from the Amazon seller). That lets kids in the facility ask for books. Loh in to Amazon and search for “Echo Glen Book Drive”

  3. 5 Jeanne
    September 23, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Great journal today.

  4. 7 pamelako
    September 24, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    You should write. You have a gift.thanks for that wonderful description.

  5. September 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Love this description of how reading moved you to write. I love to read. I was talking with a professor at a nearby college and we were discussing the lack of reading and writing in youths. I will tell her about this blog entry next time we speak. She will be thrilled at the passion. Keep writing your talent shines in your work.

    • September 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much. Reading has really been a huge help to me throughout my life. Writing just followed naturally for me. All the joys and sorrows of life can be encompassed within the confines of the written word. Art, whatever the medium, is the ultimate expression of the soul.
      -Alex King

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