Today I had one of those rare moments of realization when you really remember who you are. On a cold December afternoon in Boston, following an afternoon of immigration appointments, with my arm raging at the tuberculin embedded in its epidermis, I joined a library. I didn’t expect such an unremarkable action to provoke such an emotional response.
After signing up for my library card I headed into the new arrivals section where my eyes fell upon the large print hardcovers. Immediately I was a little girl in Hackney library with my Nan. We used to spend hours in the library, it was the one place where I could hang out unsupervised and lose myself in all the pictures and stories while my Nan chose which large print hardcovers to take home that week.
I headed downstairs to the fiction section and remembered what it was like to browse (you know, IRL) and to read purely for pleasure. To be able to choose any book that took your fancy because you liked the dust jacket or the title. I’ve always loved book shops too, but book shops are tainted by fiscal restrictions and the knowledge that you can’t afford to take home all you want. With the library your only constraints are the 20-item limit (wow!) and your reading capabilities over a 3-week period.
Continuing my explorations I headed up to the second floor reference section, and suddenly there I was in Southend library poking around the biology section for my A-level assignments. Memories such as these are not particularly remarkable or life affirming, but seemed to provoke my mind to acknowledge “I was there once” with the unconscious implication of “and I am here now”. This latter thoughtfeeling was intensified when, while continuing through the stacks, I chanced upon a book written by someone that I know. At that point I was completely immersed in the present moment, and became aware that those library-loving younger selves would never have imagined that this situation could arise.
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