My high school years were sad and dull, mostly. It was a gloomy time, people were impoverished and scared, and we teenagers didn't fare any better. The only form of entertainment we had was cheap tickets to see movies from the Eastern Bloc shown in drab state-owned theaters.
One day while walking home from a downtown theater I told my friend that after watching the movie I couldn't help feeling my life was so boring. He said he felt the same way too, the difference was that he felt it not just after the show but also during it. We both fell silent all the way home.
We continued to get our thrills the only way we knew, sitting in the dark, vicariously living the life of fictional characters from faraway lands, all the time acutely aware that something was seriously missing from our lives.
It was the same feeling that much later on made me stop reading fictions. One day after finishing the last page of a novel by A.J. Cronin, I was suddenly overwhelmed by anger and shame, a sentiment I knew had been unconsciously built up since that little conversation I had had with my friend on our way home from a movie a couple of years ago. I knew then that I had to get my own thrills and reject the cheap vicarious excitement I had been so used to. It was my own life I was living, and I had my own pride to keep.
I've been staying true to that vow ever since, but it took me a long time to get back to pleasure reading without feeling guilty, now that I have my own stories to tell to whoever wants some vicarious thrill.