All these years later and I realize that I would have been desperately unhappy if I had chosen to share my life with someone who was not also under the thrall of the written word. Eventually, the pull of words would have won, requiring me to set up some portion of the house that was devoted to stillness, no matter how little the other inhabitants of the house understood.
Instead, I have this husband, and this house: comfortably mussed, with furniture ready and waiting for feet to be propped or legs to be tucked under, and marvelously lovely slants of light from indoor and out, just waiting.
For serious long-term reading, the reading room is best; the south-facing double windows make for large amounts of indirect lighting, and the old cheap couch doesn't care if something else gets spilled on it. A reaching, stretching paw's-breadth away, the cats have 'their' blanket nestled in the feline throne that is the papasan chair. There, grooming leads to brotherly washing, which can only lead to one thing: spending a blissful drowsy afternoon tangled up with your brother on the best seat in the house.
For humans, the best napping place is the guest bedroom. There, the benefits of not being very tall can be fully appreciated; someone on the shorter side of life can prop up their book on the footrail of the bed, picking up the best of the south sunshine, while lacing his or her feet through the cool smoothness of the iron headboard.
When the combination of book and sunny spot catches you a little too deeply, all you have to do is let the waning sunshine do its work. You will awaken in a dark, calm room, your book still in front of you, and a cat either stretched along your flank or curled over your legs.
When I slid back into consciousness this evening it was to the sound of the public address system from the nearby soccer field. Its cessation left me with no sounds other than the whispering throb of the ceiling fan above me.
It was silence. A reading silence. I don't have the kind of sixth sense that tells me if Jeff is in the house or not, but I also knew that I didn't remember hearing the sound of the garage door or a car engine, and I also knew that I'd handed over our freshly-read copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to him early this afternoon.
I tiptoed out of the guest bedroom, eyes still blurry from a nap. The silence and patterns of light told me everything. The lights in the living room were off, as was the television, but the halogen lamp in the reading room was on. I walked further into the living room until I could see him, tucked comfortably into the reading room couch.
He placed his hand in the book to mark his place, and looked up with a distracted smile. "Good nap?"
"Yep." I yawned.
"Kitties are sacked out in their chair."
I looked. Sure enough, there they were, the pictures of feline exhaustion. "Big surprise there."
"Rough life they've got."
I nodded, but his eyes were already straying back down to his book. He sank back into it as I headed back to the guest bedroom, turning on a light, shifting a pillow, and preparing to go back into my own. I settled myself back in for another session of page-turning, but before I did, I settled back for a moment and just listened to the silence.
It was companionable. Friendly. Like a good couch or a purring cat.
I opened my book, and sank back in.
Bonus photos: (first of Tenzing, second of Edmund)