Dispatch from the Library

I have a friend at work (if she’s reading this, she knows who she is) who shares my intense love of the library. She’s a much faster reader than I am, though; the books she can read in a week! I envy her speed. The good thing about her quickness is that she’s always up for a trip to the library… So today we went to our usual Midtown library during the afternoon to return books and get our fix—it’s under construction and the long line to get to the checkout desk would have turned most people away, except for us. It might be physically impossible to leave a library without at least one book. So we braved the cramped stacks in the basement, the long line, and I came away with two books and two films. Enough for one day, no?

Not so.

After I headed home, on the way to the post office to mail my workshop story, I happened to pass by my favorite neighborhood library, the one that used to be a courthouse, and I couldn’t not go in.

I’m typing this post from inside.

What is it about the library? I’m looking out over an airy room, people scattered about reading. The spines of the books catch the sunlight. Some are grimy and wrinkled and look like they’ve been read hundreds of times. The windows are stained-glass, the clock stopped (no, really, I think the hands are stuck), and just ahead of me an old woman with a bamboo sun hat and a bubbie cart for all her books peeks through a stack of novels, trying to find just the right one. She reads the first page, and a page from the middle. I notice she doesn’t dare steal a glance at the end.

You know there’s no way I’m walking out of here without at least one more book. It’s unthinkable.

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