Not That Kind Of Quiet

I’m cheating on my library. No, it’s not because of the e-book thing. I have to schlep out to Colliervile two days a week and the library out here is good for hanging out. I’m a city girl. I like being inside the 240. The Memphis Central Library is within walking distance of my house–not that I ever walk there. I think about walking there, but I guess that’s kind of not the same. Anyway, one of my favorite places to sit is up on the fourth floor of the library, especially when it’s rainy. It’s not so much that the view is stellar. I sit where I can overlook East High School and the scrubby little strips of cellphone stores and nail places on Poplar. I just think it’s amazing there’s this big building full of books that could answer any question a person could have. AND THEY’RE FREE! They just GIVE them to you. Unless you’re me. When the weather is extremely hot or cold, there are a lot of scruffy men draped across the pleather chairs. They always seem to be eating Hot Fries. Back in April I was up there on a rainy morning. Several men were sitting around complaining about wives and trading stories about church services. The men began talking about work. Most were retired. It ended up that two of the men had worked for the city during the sanitation strike, but didn’t know each other. I tried not to act like a creep, but HISTORY! I had to listen in. And that’s why I love the library and Memphis. I can look out over a high school that looks like something out of a John Hughes movie while listening to people talk about being there the last night of Dr. King’s life.

The library in Collierville has carpet that cost more than my house. I don’t know how new this place is, but it doesn’t smell like a library yet. You know the smell. Paper, mold, dust, the reference librarian who still wears Wind Song. This library smells like a hotel. But credit where credit’s due. The outlet situation here is superb. There are many places to plug in one’s computer. Of course, today I seem to be the only person here using a computer which doesn’t belong to the library. Downside is I don’t get to bond with a harried grad student when we make a deal to watch each other’s stuff while we go to the restroom. I think I could just leave my stuff on the table if I need to go. I appear to be the youngest person here by at least fifteen years. If the old guy behind me wearing seersucker shorts and suspenders tried to make off with my laptop, I could take him down. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I could totally trip him with his own cane. And don’t think I wouldn’t do it. I have many important pictures of kittens cuddling with pandas downloaded on this machine.

It’s nice to be able to spread out. I might bring a snack next week. I find every task more enjoyable when snacks are involved. I’m kind of lonely though. The people-watching situation here is sub-par. The quiet here is a real quiet. Not the quiet of kids just sprung from school and eager to check Facebook. It’s not the quiet like when I try not to yell because they keep moving the 300s and 700s.  And everyone smells nice. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with that.

 

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