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By Cali Buhrman

For as long as I can remember, my life has been marked by books.

I remember sitting alone in my college bedroom, thumbing through Tender is the Night when I knew my first real relationship was coming to an end. Realizing that people change and grow, and preparing myself to be heartbroken, knowing that whatever that meant — something greater had to be waiting for me in time.

I read Hemingway and Fitzgerald through several bouts of anxiety and depression, escaping to the fascinating and all consuming world of Paris in the 1930’s, hopelessly bargaining with God to send me into a time capsule and give me the chance to live a simpler, albeit entertaining, life.

I’ve found myself traveling the world with Elizabeth Gilbert, laughing and crying, gazing in awe at the architectural wonders of Italy, India, and Indonesia. Feeling what she felt, the power of human kindness and uncomfortable assimilation, while back in reality, I refocused my direction and slowly began to close the gap on who I was and who I wanted to be.

I’ve gained political knowledge and understanding of social issues so that I could form my own opinions, find my voice, and offer ideas and solutions to the ever present issues that plague our rights as united human beings.

The power of language, the delicate and purposeful stringing of beautiful, timeless words to one another — the penned, black and white stories of individual experiences help remind me that I am not alone.

I find such comfort in knowing that my heartbreak, uncertainty, adventure, and hope is shared with someone else. I understand that the authors, and their characters, we are all one. And so the optimism and empathy they give me carries my spirit even after the chapters are closed. It’s almost as though I have lived a thousand lives over — and every time I get to the happy ending, life seems more worth living.

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