Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Place #2


We all know where our Happy Places reside. That refuge of solitude (maybe) when things are going astray and we need a moment to catch our breaths, calm down, breath deeply. Even just anticipating the trip to such a place brings about a peace. And a happy place can be more than just a physical place, it can be a state of mind with our imagination being the vehicle of transport. And it does not necessarily have to be a place but a tangible item to grasp in both hands. It can be as simple as just being with someone. Or day dreaming.

The best thing about happy places is that they are just that, places of escape that make us happy. Bring a smile and feeling of well being.

The second happy place that I have decided to commit to this blog is The Library. As long as I can remember, since my Mother is a librarian, I have felt an awe of libraries. The first one brings to memory the smell of musty books, dark tomes that were hidden in the upstairs dusty high ceilings ancient building of down town. This place would never do for my Mom, so she organized and championed a renovation (some people more than likely cursed my Mom due to a library tax increase) that resulted in a comfortable refuge, a learning center, a place of gatherings and children's hour, open later and I dare say revitalized a little bit of downtown.

I found myself standing in an aisle of another downtown branch.  The Big City, with eyes closed trying to remember the name of an author my brother mentioned as an excellent writer of Civil war fiction. Try as I may to empty my mind so that the elusive name would just POP, I could not reel it in. I read a trick once that one was to think of a place and concentrate. I found myself laying on the front yard lawn of the first house my parents purchased. I had my hands behind my head and was staring at the blue sky and the white billowing clouds as they crossed over head making out images of elephants and faces. I could feel the soft grass under my arms and the smell, oh the smell of clover. I was astonished that I dragged this memory out of ....nowhere! So astonished that I could not complete the exercise which consists of climbing and counting up 30 stairs and throwing open a door. What you are looking for (trying to remember) will be on the other side of the door.

It was too sweet a memory to let go of, so I began to browse the titles to the left of my head. I was in the "M" section and laid my hand on "At Play In the Fields of the Lord" by PeterMatthiessen. "I'll be damned" I though to myself, "He writes fiction too?". I added it to the small stack I was taking home.

I began to read the novel and halfway through it I realized this story, written in 1965, reminded me of the books that I would sneak (or so I thought) out of the library under the discriminating eye of my Mother. Actually, it was fairly easy, as she was confident that our Catholic upbringing and her unfaltering faith would lead us to the correct books for our young minds. This is how I was able to read Peyton Place, Joy in the Morning, Our Crowd etc. at a very tender age.

APITFOTL was much like those books. Well written, great story, characters that haunted your non-reading state, people you cared for and hoped that maybe you were a little bit like them. The prose was fabulous...."we were like butterflies pinned to the frames of our mortality...." (something like that) and there were missionaries and mercenaries, good and evil, nakedness and South American natives. How I would have loved this book at 12. Not quite understanding the human emotions, the driving hungers and searches for meaning and salvation, but I would look forward to the day when it would all make sense.

This is what I love about the library, always have and why I always carry a book around with me much to my husbands chagrin. I raise my eyes from the written page and respond to his criticisms of my inattentiveness of his channel surfacing!! I shake my head at him, for why would I ever compare re-runs of Combat and The Rifle Man with a masterpiece such as APITFOTL?

The library is my escape.

The library is a magic carpet.


mutualaide said...

I remember well the first book, although not the title/author, I ever checked out of Miss Day's children's room.  She recently passed on at the ripe old age of ninet-something.  The book, that rusty colored hardcover with a magical story that included characters floating in bubbles and waves and all manner of fantastical things ...

That book and Miss Day are the reason I love reading so well.

chatalicious said...

Oh how I love books. Odd because neither one of my parents were readers. When my Dad did bring home a book my Mom aways felt it bordered obscene! One day my mother confessed she had never read any book but the Bible cover to cover and the Bible had been read over a period of years! This was shocking to me. I always devoured books and remember the thrills of at a young age reading Lorna Doone and classics. I have currently been reading the Jodi Picoult books and enjoyed them so much. I cannot imagine life without books. I have so many favorites! I wish I could remember some of the ones I bought in high school or even the authors but I no longer can. When I think of all the books I have ahead of me. Sitting here waiting for me is "The Alienist."
Great entry.

dbp2000 said...

Great entry. I, too, love books and reading.


rdautumnsage said...

Books have been my escape from an abusive childhood, to barely ecking out a living...I could escape to worlds of riches, travel to any country I chose, be anything I desired. It's an escape that continue to stay with me, even now when my life and love resembles a fairytale to me. (Hugs)Indigo

slapinions said...

Howdy. Nice entry. To be honest, I'm tired and I've had one too many tonight with the Mrs. to come up with something witty, but I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I'm very glad your'e still a part of J-Land.


jmorancoyle said...

    One of my absolutely favorite places has always been the library. I used to find refuge in the microfiche section where all of our newspapers from way back in the late 1800's were stored. I love coming up with some subject or event that I want to know more about, and looking it up. And I love the smell of musty old books that no one has looked at in 50 years. The reference department has a lot of those.