Every Sunday for the last several months, as long as I wasn’t out of town, I was here. It’s become a home away from home, a weekly ritual. Whether or not I have any books to return or any holds waiting for me, it just feels wrong not to come and spend at least a little time here.
It all started because Sunday is the one day that I don’t have to pay the parking meters downtown. Not that a nickel or a dime is a huge sacrifice to go and pick up my books (but not a quarter; I draw the line there). But I was always watching the clock and feeling rushed, and annoyed if there was a line at check out, and I could just put more change in than I think I’ll need, but then it feels like a waste when I come back, and think “ugh, I could have just gone with the nickel.” Yes, it’s just a few cents, but as someone who’s naturally anxious, it was just easier for me to go on Sunday. Then I could spend as much time inside as I wanted. So… I did.
I started spending more and more time there, sometimes hunkering down into a comfy chair and reading, sometimes browsing the stacks for a happy accident, sometimes getting a few non-fiction books and spreading them out on a study table, feeling like a scholar (or at least like a student, which is a feeling I sorely miss).
But… all good things must come to an end. Yesterday was my last Sunday ritual for a while. It was the library’s last Sunday open until after Labor Day in the fall. I spent most of my time there reading, finishing up my last Bout of Books book. And then I wandered a little. I tried and failed to get up the courage to explore the third floor. (It’s not roped off or anything, but there’s no reason for me to be up there, so I always feel like I’d be doing something wrong. Maybe someday I’ll attend a public event in the auditorium up there, just for an excuse to see it.) So I stuck to the familiar, just browsing… wandering… soaking it all in.
I know I’ve only been doing these regular weekly visits for a few months, but it still feels weird to have to give it up. I know it’s stupid. There are six other days I can visit the library. I can even do all of my library transactions through the mall (just a short walk from where I live, instead of all the way across town), which is what I did for a long time after we moved here. I can’t deny it’s a quicker and more convenient way to pick up and drop off my books. But it’s not about that anymore. It’s about the library itself, a place where I can go and lose myself for a few hours.
I’ll probably try to choose a weekday evening to start going (evenings are free parking too). I’ve even thought of walking, but it’s quite a hike, especially in the heat of summer — over 3.5 hilly miles. I did it once and had to have my husband pick me up on his way home from work rather than walking back (but in my defense, the walk back is much more uphill than down).
Whatever I do, my Sundays are going to feel empty for a while.
Is your library a special place for you?