Everyone remembers their first love.
Cute (or handsome) teacher
The only one who “got” you
Given opportunity, we might try to find them again.
If especially bold, we might drive by their house.
This summer, I rediscovered my first love: the library.
My hometown library contained all the charm, character, and mystery of a 100+ year old home. I adored the card catalog – every book condensed in neat little boxes. I learned Library of Congress designations before I could read most of the books. The high water mark of the big flood of ’42 was still visible on the walls. Each room was its own section; no getting lost in this library. In the hall, a wide staircase to the forbidding upstairs, off-limits to regular patrons. In the front hall, the television that stood for years until my friend C_____ bought it for $20. I wonder if he ever replaced the missing tubes?
The big library in Scranton – in my mind a fortress – with two separate buildings: one for kids and one for adults. The first time someone told me I was too young to be in the adult section. The joy and wonder of “getting lost” in the ironwork stacks. Knowing the library better than my teachers for the annual research trip. My first copy card. Learning microfilm and microfiche.
I loved to read. My first book report – given in the second grade – was Moby Dick (unabridged, of course). In the fourth grade I explained the symbolism of Snowball in Animal Farm. I read political theory and philosophy while my classmates struggled with Little House on the Prairie. My parents told me that during one PTA, a teacher said I shouldn’t act so smart. Apparently I made the rest of the class feel stupid by using the word “doubloon” in a sentence. We were discussing Treasure Island.
But along the way, I stopped
loving making time for books. In pursuing education, I stopped reading for fun. Well, at least during the school year. The only books I remember reading for personal pleasure between 2003 and 2008 were Charlotte’s Web and The Silmarillion, both in German. I’m sure there were books I read – some I even wanted to read – I just don’t remember them.
For the last few years, I’ve saved up and bought the books I wanted to read. But I forgot about the library. And so, several weeks ago, short of cash but long in the To-Be-Read list, I went to my local library.
It’s not like the libraries of my childhood. It’s small(er), but maybe that’s because I’ve grown. It was obviously built – or at least renovated – to be a library. Two large open rooms and a smaller local history/microfilm room. No chance to get lost in the stacks, just look down the aisle. But still, it’s a library. And I’ve discovered the books call to me here just as well. It’s love, rekindled.