Once upon a time, a lonely, socially awkward latch key kid started going to the library after school and she got swept away into Chinese dynsasties, golden Egyptian pyramids, a long smooth table next to rows and rows of neatly lined encyclopedias and the best librarian in the world, Mrs. Dudas.
In the library, I was afforded an escape route from the complicated chaos know as my childhood. There in the temperature controlled, quiet, I could collect my thoughts and then travel far, far away. Mrs. Dudas treated me with great dignity, diligently filing my endless requests for books from the other larger branches in our county library system.
When I went to high school, I upgraded to the school and that larger town's library and left my tiny home town library behind. Today, I pay for the privelege to use one of the larger fancy neighboring town's library and the county system. Our town doesn't participate in the county system and it doesn't seem so big and exciting since I'm not in high school anymore.
I try to get to the library once a week. Sometimes I have a specific topic or author in mind, tonight I was looking for Indian cookbooks to research ideas for a dinner party I'm catering in a few weeks. Most times, I just walk in and empty my mind, just like when I was a kid. I especially like to look at the racks of books other people have just returned and are waiting to be shelved. I'll often select something unexpected from those racks like a biography on Emily Dickinson that I read a few weeks ago. I wonder which books get read the most and which ones the least. Which hidden gems are there to find? Like the Shirley Jackson short stories I read over the summer.
I'm not sure why the library has this power over me, to stop me from thinking about my problems and unbelievably long to-do lists.
I'm definitely grateful it does though. I just wish Mrs. Dudas was still here to be my trusty librarian.