Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'm in love

Blogging has taken a backseat over the past couple of weeks as things in my life have changed a little. I'm in love. With an old, old flame.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I was out driving around in Fayetteville with the girls and we passed the Fayetteville Public Library. Sweet memories of happy summer afternoons whiled away at my little hometown library overwhelmed me, and we did a quick turn into the parking lot. The next 90 minutes were something I've only been able to dream about the past several years. You see, as a child, I was in love with books. Really in love. Every Saturday morning while most kids I knew were sprawled on sofas and beanbags indulging themselves with Sugar Bombs and Looney Tunes, I made a beeline for the local library. I loved that place in a way I hardly have words to describe. It was nearly intoxicating to be in the presence of so many words. Words that told the stories of great people. Words that communicated useful information. Words that entertained. Words, words, words ...

Back in those days, the checkout desk was overseen by a little old withered, tight-bunned, purse-lipped lady we only knew as Mrs. Hockersmith. Many adjectives come to mind when I think of Mrs. Hockersmith, but the one that describes her best was rigid. Really, really rigid. When it came to the library rules, she knew them all. Heck, she probably wrote them all. And she enforced every one of them with a sternness that would make most drill instructors cringe.

Now, most of these rules I was fine with. Like the one about no talking above a whisper. I actually liked that one, because it meant I could sit and read without interruptions from noisy children. And the one about not yelling into the book depository by the front door. Someone did that once while I was in the microfilm room (which is where the collection bin was located) and I nearly wet my pants from shock. Mrs. Hockersmith actually looked gleeful as she called their parents.

The one rule that I really had a problem with (and the one she busted me for all the time) was the check-out limit of 10 books. Ten books might be fine for an adult, but when you're talking about books that are written for young children, I could fly through half of those before my mom parked the car in the driveway.

It was an exciting day when I could finally move up to the "juvenile" section and met some of my best childhood friends: Laura Ingalls, Nancy Drew, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (Little Women), and Anne of Green Gables.

As soon as we returned home, I would flop across my double bed and start on the book that looked most interesting. I would read nonstop until I was ready for a change, then I would place my first choice face down under the pillow I didn't sleep on, then start on book #2. When once again I was ready for a change, I would pick up my third choice after placing book #2 face down on top of book #1, and so on. I had a personal rule of never having more than four stories going at once, so after I had begun the fourth book, I would pick up the bottom one from the pile and resume it for a while. It was a lovely way to spend a hot summer afternoon ... or evening ... or all day, if my parents would let me get away with it. Unfortunately, they felt that sunshine and fresh air were more important than I did, and they frequently "kicked" me out of the house to play outdoors. It was torture, I tell you.

College, marriage, more college, career, then children drew me away from my love affair with books for many years. So, you can understand why it was such a heady experience just wandering hand in hand with my daughters through aisle after aisle of stories yet to be read. After much deliberation (because the 10-book limit is enforced here, too), we took home a nice collection of books for me, books for the girls, a couple of videos and a computer game.

And I've been in heaven ever since.


Lisa said...

Great old memories and new memories in the making!!! I had a thing while growing up that I could only read one book at a time and before I started the book I would go read the very last line of the book, which of course made no sense at the time, but when I got back to it at the end of the book it was neat to see how it finally fit in. Matthew is not good on library trips. They are very short and sweet. Your childhood librain would have been just tickled to got to scold him so many times.

heartsjoy said...

That sounds so wonderful! I agree, getting to snuggle down with new good books is always fun!