Monday Musings: My Happy Place

Today after my cardiac rehab we went to the library. There are many places I go that I enjoy, or have special meaning. But only libraries always trigger my endorphins as soon as I walk into the door.

Growing up, the Garden City (MI) library was about a 7-mile round trip from my childhood home. To me, that was a quick bicycle ride. When I was even younger the times my mom would take me there were as exciting as the zoo! So when I was finally old enough to get myself there and back, I went as often as I could. I’d come home with stacks of books, of course, and I read them all avidly! But mostly I just wanted to BE there, wandering around, picking up the occasional book that caught my interest and sitting down to read a bit of it.

I guess my favorite books were teen fiction, biographies (and autobiographies), historical romances, anything about animals or nature or museums or zoos, medical stories and health conditions, music history, travel, crafting, cooking, architecture, mysteries…well, it probably would have been easier to list the books that I didn’t care for!

It was a family joke that I had read every book in our town’s library, though I knew I still had a few left to read. And I couldn’t NOT read! I read every single chance I got. I’d pore through several books every week. Once I started it was hard to stop. “Just one more chapter” was my night-time mantra. “As soon as I finish this book” was my most common procrastinationism. (And reading helped me learn to make up my own words too!)

When I went to college the library was attached to my dorm. (Actually every building was, via long hallways connecting them in a row that went on forever!) And I was so thrilled when I learned that the library didn’t close until 11:00 p.m. some nights! I could often be found up in the stacks, where nobody else seemed to venture, losing myself in all those words, when I should have been in the music building practicing. The draw of the library was just so strong!

Reading was, sometimes, a problem however. Because I couldn’t stop. MANY were the mornings I could barely get out of bed because I had “one more chapter-ed” myself until dawn. I learned quickly, once I entered the workforce, that opening my book during my lunch break all but guaranteed I’d be late getting back, so I had to give up that middle-of-my shift habit…

The library, with its seeming unending source of reading material – FOR FREE, no less! – was my heaven on earth, and I shared that with my daughter. After she was born, and was a couple of weeks old, my first outing by myself was to the library. And when I got the go-ahead from her pediatrician, she started accompanying me. I recall when she was in upper elementary grades we moved to a larger city for the first time, and the library was HUGE!!! We used to absolutely love going there! Things like weather events that would have deterred mere amateurs didn’t keep us home!

And so, libraries occupied a huge part of my life and time. Until they didn’t. A stroke in 2008 left my brain unable to organize all of those words into an understandable form, so they were soon forgotten. Reading the same few words over and over and over again until they “stuck” made it a horrible perversion of my beloved passion. And so there was no point to go into libraries anymore. On the occasions that I found myself in one I would experience that same thrill for a minute…until I realized that as much as I loved it, there was no point in being there…

So all of these thoughts and feelings ran through me today when Pete and I went into the library in a nearby town. I could only stare at shelf after shelf of books, wanting so much to wander (er, “scwalk“) the aisles, picking up the occasional book that caught my interest and sitting down to read a bit of it…

And maybe, sometime, I will try again. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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