I was reading outside at our patio table. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Kosta through our open sliding glass doors chopping vegetables at our kitchen counter, prepping for dinner. I made a conscious effort to take in my surroundings, listen to the birds, watch the sky, and Kitty sleeping. Breathe deeply and decompress. I was alone, but not. And so happy. The book tugged at my mind, drawing me back in. But after reading the very next sentence I threw the book on the patio table, jumped up and ran into the house. I had been hemming and hawing about the different volunteer opportunities I had come across lately – none sounding like the perfect fit for me. I barely slowed down to turn the corner at the kitchen and dart down the hallway to my office. As I did, I incoherently shouted at Kosta that I realized what it is I wanted to do. Teach someone to read!

Books take me away from the things I worry and obsess about. They’ve taught me to be a decent speller. I’ve learned to tell the difference between when the moon is getting full or when it’s slipping away. I’ve traveled to India and Afghanistan, France and Peru in my head. I’ve embarrassed myself by sobbing and laughed obnoxiously to myself in public. Books are like my soul. I wanted to give someone else that gift.

So as I collapsed into my office chair, rolled up close to the computer, I still gave no thought to the fact that I knew how to spell and type “teach someone to read in San Diego” into Google’s search.  Then I saw it, on READ/San Diego‘s website. “In San Diego County, approximately 450,000 adults cannot read and write well enough to meet everyday needs and pursue professional goals.” And it struck me just how much I take reading for granted. Forget traveling in your head and understanding the moon cycles. Imagine all of the basic things in life you cannot do if you cannot read.  Like fill out a job application, understand your utility bill, write a check to pay your rent, or figure out the bus schedule.  It’s staggering and endless.

I am filling out my volunteer application. I can think of nothing more powerful that I can do. And my heart sings with knowing that there is this gift, the basic ability to read, that I have held inside for so long, never realizing it was there waiting to be given but is now about to be shared.