The world under my daddy's desk
i remember being in the second grade and being interested in archaeology. i would sneak into my parents' bedroom and open the box of books under my father's desk. they were boxes we weren't allowed to touch, because in them were very expensive books my dad set an amount aside from his monthly salary and paid a lay-away plan for. there was this 5-book series that i particularly liked--the modern book of knowledge. there was a volume on astronomy, the wildlife, the oceans, biology, and archaeology. come to think of it, i also was interested in astronomy around that time, and of all the kids in my first grade class, i could draw the best solar system, because of my first-rate reference book.
it seemed that my dad was keeping the books away till my siblings and i were older, and he was saving up to buy a bookcase with glass doors where he could lock them in. but at one point he must have decided it was pointless to keep the books in boxes when my sister and i had almost worn out the boxes in our secret reading sessions under his desk, and so one day he took the books out of the boxes and let us read them, even if he believed we were still too young for them. and so i grew up never being intimidated by huge amounts of text to a page, because at a very young age i was already enjoying reading encyclopediae.
our dad never bought us dr. seuss books and bought very few picture books, and so for my amusement, i read about the stories about the eruption of mt. vesuvius at pompeii, the story of the boy king tutankhamen and ancient egypt, the histories of the lost civilizations of alexandria, mesopotamia, maya, and the lives of real indiana jones characters like howard carter. pretty soon i was reading beyond ancient and lost civilizations, and was reading the biographies of kings and their mistresses, the various saints and martyrs, and the colorful lives of artists through time like Hieronymous Bosch, Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Cezanne, and Van Gogh.
it's the rain. i remember those childhood days. and the vivid smells-- of the rain, of the pages of the books, of the carton boxes mingling with the faint musty wood of my dad's desk.