Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Favorite Library Experience

Note: in 2002, my local public library had a “My Favorite Library Experience” writing contest. I encouraged my two deaf children to write something because they offered cash prizes. They scoffed at my suggestion and told me to write it myself. I took their challenge, and won a second-prize of $75. Guess who then wanted me to take them to dinner!

I grew up in a small town in Indiana. It was an idyllic childhood where all we ever did all summer was to swim in the local swimming pool. Can’t say anything exciting ever happened in the years that I lived there. My deaf father was a factory worker, and my deaf mother a housewife who raised four children. I don’t remember much about the town that I was born in because I was sent away to a boarding school in Indianapolis. BUT I have a favorite library experience.

Every week during the summer months, my two deaf sisters and I would ride our bicycles to the library that’s on the edge of the town about two miles away. Once there, we would stay for hours. I would then become comfortable sitting on the library floor with books piled up around me. Eventually, my second oldest sister would come and let me know it was time to go home. I would pick books that I wanted to borrow. Each one of us would have a huge stack of books, but they would have to fit in the wire basket of our bikes. Now, during those days, backpacks were unheard of, and that was a very old-fashioned way of lugging books.

Anyhow, one summer day after putting books carefully in the wire basket, we raced to get home. I was riding behind my two sisters when I bumped into the sidewalk that was buckled. I remember vividly how my books went up in the air and scattered all over the ground. My sisters had to come back and helped me put the books back in the wire basket. The moment seems so insignificant, but somehow I thought of that moment rather quickly and fondly when I saw the announcement of the “My Favorite Library Experience.”

Indeed, my sisters and I continued going to the library when my second oldest sister got her driver’s license and started to drive us everywhere. Driving in the family car rather on our respective bikes with wire baskets only meant we could borrow bigger stacks of books.

Today, my children and I recall the really small branch library in Solana Beach Plaza on the other side of the freeway. I didn’t know how my mother allowed us to ride so far to the library because I wouldn’t allow my really young children ride their bikes on Lomas Santa Fe. A few years later, the library moved to new quarters a few blocks away from our home. Happily, we now walk down to the library. Hopefully, my children have their own favorite library story of walking down to the library and having their backpack spill their books.

As a postscript, I returned to my hometown for my grandmother’s funeral a few years ago. My sisters and I decided to drive around our small but idyllic town. I made sure to drive by the town’s library. It was still a beautiful building. The sidewalks were still buckled.