I returned to my hometown library this week, a favorite holiday pilgrimage of mine. Libraries always feel like candy stores where they're giving everything away for free.
There ought to be a line stretching around the block. Instead, there are plenty of open seats, which makes it even better.
I think of a library as a decadent spa, full of delicious food.
Entering the second floor , I pick out four books from the New Non Fiction shelf and grab an armload of CDs to rip into my laptop while I read.
I look around and the room has a scattering of the usual pragmatic types, people here to
--work on their resume
--study for an exam or
--check their e-mail.
I notice my peer group of fellow idlers are over at the periodicals, lost in perusal.
The youth outreach at Rochester Hills Public Library is in full effect, titles like Santa Manga on display in the Anime Section. Some teen-suitable furniture is nearby, similar to the Giant Hand Chair from Woody Allen's Sleeper.
I am stunned to notice that something links the 2007 RHPL to my 1982 RHPL: a gentle giant of a man, long thought gone, is once again there shelving books. I want to talk to him but am not sure what we would talk about. Where have you been? Why can you afford to make your living by just shelving books year after year? Does he rank first in seniority and loyalty to this great place? I want to thank him for connecting this new building to the old one, his presence a kind of button to fasten the two incarnations, a silent, Collossus astride two eras of my hometown like the original Colossus stood across the harbor in Rhodes.
A Margaret Atwood poem in one of the new books catches my eye:
tunnel through which I came.
you are sinking down into
your own veins, fingers
folding back into the hand,
day by day a slow retreat¦
This Atwood poem has extra meaning since my own aging mom, a Maple Leaf in her heart, has always been a fan of these Canadian women authors ( see also Carol Shields). In Atwood's poem, the ache of mortality is poignant, not exactly sad, her family ties made keener by their participants shifting relative to one another, like a frog's eyes only noticing something's presence if that something changes position.