My family, the Behrisch clan, hasn’t been together just the five of us for more than 15 years. Last week, we rolled into my parents’ garden suite in Vancouver and hunkered down for some serious time together. We walked, we ate, we snuggled–all that good stuff–but given the time and choice, we talked and played word games. I grew up with Scrabble, with challenges to spelling, with jokes and clever stories, with exaggerations and hyperbole and laughter. Narrative was the way everything was done at home. It still is.
When we weren’t across the table from each other gunning for those coveted triple-word scores, I got to pick through loved ones’ bookshelves to discover what they got themselves up to when I wasn’t around. It’s no coincidence that my favourite people out on the Coast (or anywhere) are dedicated readers, and it’s surprisingly intimate to run my hands along the spines of their books, considering which dog-eared standby they might pick out when evening rain lashed against the windows. I saw clearly the useful proximity of bookshelf to couch, a table just large enough for a glass of wine, and a blanket ready for action.
Knowing what they read makes me feel closer to them; I know, a little, how their minds work and what they think of. These are the people I most want to hear from, and they bring their beautiful imaginations and creativity to bear on the notes they send me from far away. Sometimes we even read the same thing at the same time, and we’re almost sitting on that couch together.