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Libraries. Books. Cooking.

June 22, 2010

Despite my past with libraries, from working in one to spending hours studying for my PhD in another, I have a contentious relationship with the public library. Most of the contention could be blamed on my inability to turn in any book on time. This slight issue forced me to be on the run from the Arlington and Alexandria library systems for half a decade. You see, when I worked in the library, this could be unethically altered, or as a graduate student I explain away late fees as a price to pay for the development of genius. However, I couldn’t quite explain to AAM why I chose to rack up fines on a few miserable books on tape or romance novels. So, I choose to avoid the conversation all together by purposefully losing my library card and avoiding the situation all together– rather brilliant of me indeed!

Well, now that I have time on my hands, I really started wanting to go to the NEW shiny Shirlington library. Peaking through the window I saw sparkly computers, dvds, and a large section of books for children. The neighborhood children were reading and playing on the computer. Toddlers were out front reading board books with their mothers. I realized that my stubborn, flighty behavior threatened my child’s future! I could just see her begging to get a book at the library, or hangout with friends in our neighborhood library. And me, her cruddy mother the outlaw took away any opportunity for her to socialize. We chose to live in Arlington because of the diversity, schools, parks, walkable neighborhoods, and yep, the dozen neighborhood libraries. So, about three weeks ago, I announced to AAM that I was going to the library to get the entire thing sorted out. He looked at me, eyebrows raised, and said “Hmmmm?”

Not one to be stopped by the doubts of others, Serafina and I set out on Monday to resolve the entire affair. After our routine stop to Best Buns, I slowly walked over to the library, with each step the tension rose. Really, the stress became too much, Serafina saw the anxiety and became hungry from physical exhaustion. After feeding her a bottle, we entered. I slowly perused the food book section, and made a mini-discovery. All the cookbooks, food philosophy, and green movement books I could imagine filled the shelves. Bingo-a new cooking resource! The surprise over the obvious was as shocking as when the doctor told AAM and I that Serafina will someday burp herself. We were dumbfounded by this possibility, which we shortly laughed hysterically at the realization of our stupidity, of course she will learn to burp herself! So in this case, of course the library had food books! I quickly started making plans of reading food books and reviewing them. Seriously people, this is the best place to go for recipes and food theory books. Who knew?

Anyways, I grabbed two new books The Fruit Hunters and Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, and marched right to the checkout. Trying to connect with the friendly face at the circulation desk, I started mumbling jokes about my inability to find the library in five years. I whispered the possibility of some “small fines” and a “lost card.” Due to my half a decade absence, she generally offered to wave the lost card fee. Wow, this place is excellent, they wave fees to get you to visit them! Then, to my shock, she announced that my outstanding fine was $5. Seriously, I was avoiding this haven of child entertainment for $5 lousy dollars? This moment reminded me of how memory inflates our anxieties and insecurities. Somehow, my inability to hand in library books in my twenties came to represent my insecurities about responsibility and money.

Well, luckily, Serafina and I have a date every Monday to walk to Shirlington and grab a drink, well she gets a bottle of milk and I get my much needed coffee. Now, we can continue to the library and pick out new cooking recipes or food theory, when she becomes a toddler we can read outside by the fountain, and maybe even one day she can ride her bike and meet her friends there.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 11:23 am

    Five dollars?! I love it. I, too, have a library disorder. Robb and I have moved so frequently, that I am the proud holder of library cards in three different Maryland counties now: Montgomery, Calvert, and Worcester. I can't believe they haven't compared notes and figured out that I cannot live in three places at once.

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