Most afternoons, when I was a kid, you could find me underneath the living room coffee table. I’d lie there for hours holding a book above my face. Tucked away, in plain sight of my grandparents, whose feet would pass by every so often, I felt safe. I’d hear them shuffling around the kitchen, talking about the kids and what they should do for dinner. In and out, I’d drift from their conversations to those happening on the pages in front of me.
Harry and Hermione. Claudia and Stacey. Amelia Bedelia and the Rogers family. Grandma and Grandpa, and occasionally, mom and brother.
At 5’1’’, I haven’t grown much since then, but at 34, I have outgrown fitting comfortably underneath most coffee tables.
Now, whenever I try propping my feet underneath my own coffee table, I am humbled by my creaking knees. I compromise by lying with the top third of my body under the table and my legs stretched out in front. My book still hovers inches above my face.
These days, with the neverending news of Covid variants and banned books, of broken systems and beloved figures departing (rest in peace, Betty and bell), it takes effort not to spiral into despair.
But lying supine and looking ridiculous beneath my coffee table, I feel grounded once more. I am reminded of the girl I was — so full of light and hope for the future. And though I can no longer hear my grandparents’ footsteps pass by, I remember the way they made me feel. That memory carries me through one page, then another, until my heartbeat steadies.
Tell me: Did you have a favorite reading spot as a kid? How did it make you feel? And what feels calming to you these days?
Jenny Jin is a beauty editor, writer and on-air expert based in Los Angeles. She also shared her week of outfits and breakup story with us. Find her on Instagram @jyjin, where she will happily reply to any DMs regarding life, sunscreen and K-pop sensation, BTS.
(Photo by VISUALSPECTRUM/Stocksy.)