A Gushy Love Letter to a Building Filled With Books
Okay, so let me just start off this letter by saying that I am your BIGGEST fan. Like, the absolute hugest. I know that there are probably a lot of girls out there who say that these days, but all of them are lying. Because none of their ardour compares in the slightest to my utter infatuation with you.
I remember the first time we met. I was a wee little (read: freakishly tall) girl of five or six years old, and my mom was just teaching me how to read. Somehow, I took to the written word like a teenage boy takes to bacon, and I devoured every easy-read book I could get my hands on. By the time halfway through my year of kindergarten, my mother decided to take me to the library, to find some more books to read. I remember her using that word: “Library”. My little naive ears had no idea what magical connotations those seven letters would later hold in my mind. I arrived at the large brick building expecting to find a shelf of books, much like the one we had at home. What I found instead, was my very own Narnia. An absolute wonderland of irresistible hardcover books lining the walls and towering above my little body.
From that day on, I was utterly captivated by you. I begged my mother to drive me to visit you at least once a week, without fail. I kept a carton in my room with the words “Library Books” taped on the front, full of a small sampling of your treasures. You introduced me to “Little House on the Prairie” and the “American Girl” series, and so many amazing gems of literature that I would uncover over the years.
When I was seven or eight, I learned that no matter where I go in this country, I could always visit you. When my family owned a book fair business that made us travel to Maryland, or Florida, or North Carolina, I would spend my days huddled up in the libraries of Christian schools, hoarding all the books I could find. I’d speak to your wonderful friends, those beautiful librarians, and ask them for their recommendations of your finest selections. They dropped heavy titles like “Little Women” and “A Tale of Two Cities” into my second-grade hands, and encouraged me to read them. And I did, sitting in the dark back corners all by myself, pouring over dozens and dozens of great classics.
Sometimes, you were a source of conflict in my family. Like all those times I threatened to run away from home and join you forever. Who could blame me for wanting to do that? You were conveniently located next to the bank holding my childhood saving’s account, and you were a mere stone’s throw away from grocery stores lined with poptarts, fruitloops, and every other disgustingly delicious food I wasn’t allowed to eat at home. At other times, my mother would separate me from you as a form of punishment. She’d take away my library card and store it in her wallet if I did something wrong, keeping me from your presence for weeks on end. “Read your own books,” she’d say. She never did understand the unspoken bond we had. The bond that attracted your books to me, rather than all the other books I’d seen and owned. There was just something so special and beautiful between us. Something that no one else will ever understand.
At the end of the day, I know I’m just another fan to you. Just another girl who forgets to bring her books back on time because she’s so delirious with the joy of holding on to them and reading her favorites over and over again. Just another teenage nerd who spent too many hours of her free time roaming the foreign travel section and memorizing the Dewey Decimal system so well that she wound up spending most of her library trips showing others around the building. I’m just another reader to you.
But you, dear library. You are the reason I learned to love books. To experience a thrill and sense of adventure when stepping into a new library building, where everything is unfamiliar and foreign and overwhelming. You are the reason why the written word is always going to be very dear to my heart. Why I’ll never break down and buy a Kindle, or a Nook, or read a book on my computer. Why I’ll still take time out almost every week to drive fifteen minutes to the nearest library branch and check out half a dozen books. And why I’ll continue to grow and change and travel and experience every adventure I could ever dream of, all through the pages of your books.
Clearly, I love you. My family and future husband will probably always be jealous of how much I love you. But until all of them can afford to send me to Paris, Egypt, Narnia, and Prince Charmont’s castle anytime I want, they can just stand in line.