When I was 18 I got on a plane and left my home with a suitcase and no idea where I wanted to be.
Uncertainty wasn’t a new sensation for me. I’d never been sure about anything. My family, my religion, my education, my friends, all teetered on the brink, ready to shatter at the slightest touch. So I distanced myself, terrified of being cut when the shards hit the ground.
I sat in a plane bound for Israel with a backpack filled to the brim with books. I didn’t trust the baggage handlers not to lose them in my suitcase, and I didn’t care about any of my possessions so long as I had the few favorite novels I could bring with me on my journey to nowhere in particular. When the plane lifted off the ground and I said a silent goodbye to Georgia, I took out my battered copy of The Hobbit and ran my fingers across the cover, breathing deeply, calmed by the words that I knew were underneath.
I was the girl who believed in nothing, but I believed in stories.
From the first time I curled up on my grandfather’s lap and listened as he confided in me the secrets of childhood days spent roaming the swamps of Georgia, I was hooked. With each intake of a tale I’d never been told, I fell a little deeper in love with the way that words lingered in my ears and passed through my brain, resting on the tip of my tongue when I whispered them to the darkness before I fell asleep at night.
They became the driving force of my young life, and my hope. The place I rested when I could find nowhere else. The one constant in my life was the sustaining power of a story well told. I grew up in them, and learned through them.
And as the years passed and life got worse and better, they were there.
When I left my religion and joined another, they were there.
Through bad relationships and the birth of my children, they remained constant.
Even though life now is not what it once was, I remain in the realm of made up dreams, a place with more depth and width, more joy and pain than this world could ever hope for.
I am a writer, as I am a reader, because I believe in nothing more. I write for every breath my grandmother and grandfather spent on me as they wove their beautiful stories, for everyone who has put pen to paper in the hope that they might ease another’s pain and eased mine.
I write because those long forgotten tellers of tales who sat around campfires a thousand years ago inspiring the awe of their listeners deserve to be kept alive in the sparks of magic that occur when something that never was finds life on the page or in the heart of a reader.
Callie Armstrong © 2013