There is nothing like writing while it is raining outside, except maybe writing with a hot steaming cup of coffee next to you. Of course, there is nothing like taking a nap or watching a movie while cuddling up with someone when it is raining cats and dogs outside, but I digress.
On any given day, you can find me at some point in time reflecting on the past. Often, I revisit my childhood. This seems to be a favorite daydream of mine. When my sister and I were little, the world was a wonderfully magical place, but never was it as wonderful or as magical as when we visited the public library, a renovated old mansion that had once belonged to a prominent, local family.
For us, walking into our library was similar to Alice walking through the looking glass. I can still remember the sweet, crisp smell as we walked in. The glass doors opened into a very inviting children's section, especially if you just walked in from the North Texas heat. It was very cool, quiet, and bright. You could only hear the murmur of the air conditioning units and office noises and intermittently, the whispers of mothers and children and scuffles of little feet. My favorite noise was the stamping of the book cards upon checkout, even though it would make my eyes blink with anticipation. My favorite smell was the smell of the index cards upon opening the vintage wood filing cabinets, nothing else smells quite like it. We were welcomed to explore here. It was a different kind of exploring from getting dirty and sweaty outside in some abandoned field, but it was just as liberating, minus the yelling. You could peruse at your leisure and freely examine books with all sorts of covers and subjects.
It truly was a special time for me. It has never left me. I can still remember the books I read; Socks, Pie Face and Daphne, Are You There God's It's Me Margaret?, Old Cat and New Cat, The Boxcar Children, It's Raining Pancakes, Ralph Mouse, Super Fudge, Ramona, just to name a few. My favorite books were usually those awarded the Texas Bluebonnet award. It seems we read all the books there, but I know now that was impossible. I just felt at home (as at home as you can feel in a magical place), special. I also remember the feel of walking upstairs to the Adult section of the library. We could not check out books from there without a guardian's permission, but we could look around if an adult family member or friend escorted us. It was like a child being invited to eat at the adult's table.
It was bittersweet when we were old enough to check out books from the second floor. We felt priviledged to do so, but it was hard saying goodbye to our dear friends from the shelves. For a while, we checked out books from both sections. Until one day, we just entered through the front entrance of the renovated mansion, totally bypassing the children's section altoghether, and graduated to the world of young adult and adult fiction, nonfiction, and media. Our magical world now included Hollywood legends and their biographies, sophisticated love stories, sensitive subjects, and a mustier attic smell that mingled with the sweet, dusty smell emanating from the older books.
On a clear day, we could take our newfound treasures outside and read on the marbled steps leading towards the front of the mansion. If we were lucky, it would rain and we could sit down in our sanctuary, our magic kingdom, and escape into the fields that would not tear our clothes up or dirty our faces beyond recognition.
It is a love of reading and visiting the library that I have been most proud to share with my children to this very day.