|Space age tentacle chairs! (Thanks Tessa, for taking this photo)|
You were so beautiful today! Your skies were a crystalline blue, and the air had a sharpness to it that woke me up a little bit each time I breathed in. In the afternoon two friends and I walked to the Cedar Rapids Public Library, which let me tell you, is a million times more amazing than I thought it was going to be. It is brand new, big, and beautiful, with ultra modern touches and incredibly high ceilings. It’s like a giant space-ship of books. While trying (and failing) to get our library cards from one of the GIANT IPADS attached to the wall, we eventually asked the desk clerk in the children’s section for help, and she cheerfully obliged, taking her time with each of us to answer our questions and double check our information. Seriously, this woman was the epitome of Iowa niceness, and everything I’ve ever wanted in a librarian. We then sauntered over to the teen-fiction section. Earlier today I had checked WorldCat (a worldwide library catalog) to see if any of the books on my to-read list came up in Cedar Rapids. (When you are an avid reader like me, you almost never go to the library unprepared.) Almost nothing turned up. What I later discovered is that the library must not have cataloged many books on outside servers yet, because they had all the books I was looking for. By the time we were finished we had six or seven books each. I’m usually pretty good about not going overboard on library rentals, but today I indulged myself. We ate dinner at the café inside the library. I had a roasted turkey sandwich on delicious focacia bread. On the way back I lugged the cart that my friend had (very smartly) decided to bring, with our cargo cradled neatly inside. Surprisingly, the bag fit all of the books perfectly.
But the best part by far was following my friends up to their dorm room, curling up on a corner of the bed, and reading. All three of us read late into the night, each lost in the worlds of our books. On one instance one of them coughed, and about three seconds later we both looked from our books and stared at her. “Are you okay?” my other friend asked her. “Yeah,” she said, slightly confused, “It was just one cough.” We burst out laughing, then, because we had both been so engrossed in our books that the cough had taken on this weird novelty aspect, and had brought us, startlingly, back to reality. One by one each of my friends finished their books. It was so cool to see them resurfacing from the world they had just inhabited, holding the book tightly as through afraid it might fly away. I finished last, my friends already on their second read, but the satisfaction of finishing a book in one sitting was totally worth it. I can’t remember the last time I read for so long, so completely. And the best part was that it was a surprisingly communal act. Even though we were all silently reading different books, there was a sense that each of us understood how the other ones felt in that moment. I finished my book around midnight. We chatted for a little bit and then I gathered up my books and went back to my dorm room, where I am now, writing this. Sitting here, in the semi-dark, the magic hasn’t left me. The satisfyingly large stack of books is just to my right, waiting patiently for me to pick up another. I let a few of the images from the book I just finished play through my mind. I savor the time spent with its characters, and wait for the story to settle inside me, to become whole, a piece of my memory.
Tomorrow, I will pick up a new book, but I probably won’t be reading it in one sitting. I still like savoring a book, reading bits at a time, maybe powering through the last night of reading if the ending is really good. I probably won’t be able to finish the remaining five before they are due again. But that’s okay, because right now just their presence is comforting, a gentle reminder of a day well spent.
Song of the day: Silence, which is the best way to read.