What’s saving my life right now? The library.
My parents read to me every night before bed, long before Kindergarten—basically since I was born. My favorite book was Peter Rabbit. I was a stickler for the story. I had memorized every word and if they skipped so much as a “the” in an effort to hurry me toward bedtime, I would insist that they start over.
In Kindergarten, within the first few days of school my teacher invited one of my classmates up to the front of the circle where we all sat criss-cross-applesauce. She proudly asked Ashley to read a few lines of a book. I was astonished. This girl could read? It was only the first week of school! I wanted to read.
The first book I remember reading on my own was called, I Hate my Bow. It was about a fluffy, curmudgeonly dog who complained about having to wear a bow. I loved dogs; I hated bows. At five years old the story resonated with me deeply. When I was in third grade my aunt said to my mom, “Elizabeth used to dress so cute! What happened?” Apparently, I found my voice and would no longer tolerate bows and dresses. My parents should have been more careful with my reading material.
I’m sitting in my local library now as I write. I can hear children in the next room exploring thousands of stories. I wonder what they are discovering about themselves and their own voices through the authors’ words and pictures?
I love the library. My mom used to take me almost every week and I would gather piles of books to work through sitting on my bedroom floor. I am a glutton for books, and I still frequently check out more than I can carry. Today, I brought an extra bag, just in case.
I discovered this library branch when I first moved to Charlottesville. It is much smaller than the main downtown location where Nick and I like to go on Saturday mornings after the farmer’s market and before our favorite lunch spot. This smaller branch is full of moms with young kids and retired folks reading magazines and working on the computers during the weekdays when I come here.
There’s a sign on the door that says, “Libraries are for everyone.” I love it.
When I moved to town and didn’t really know many people or have much to do, I knew I could go to the library and be around the comforting smell of books and begin to get to know my community.
The library is saving my life today because I knew that I could come here, find a table to sit at and type, and snag a few more books to add to my heavy shelves. It’s a simple comfort that roots me and invites me to be more fully myself.
What is saving your life today?
Confused by my question? Read this.