As I travelled up the narrow escalator, I could almost feel the hard tug of the canvas backpack on my shoulder. Everything felt the same as the floor came into view, although new carpet stretched far ahead. I walked towards the next set of escalators and noticed the card catalog area now housed a writing centre, something we definitely didn’t have back in the day.
Once we picked a table on the third floor, I took off to peruse the stacks for old time’s sake. The smell of old books and the light scuffing sound my boots made on the thin rug took me back to twenty-one. The books were organized differently but as my hand trailed over the spines it was like nothing had changed.
Yet everything had. I had to remind myself that these memories were twenty-five years old. I was now married, a mother of two, and a depression survivor. My body was a far cry to what it was back then, a dancer of seventeen years. My achievements in the world outside my home were small and insignificant, not something I would have predicted back then.
Was it any wonder I would begin to write? It took me long enough. And in truth, it’s only because of life’s hard knocks I feel compelled to express myself now. My love for this place, any library or bookstore really, may have been a precursor to this unseen curve in the road.
I wonder if it’s a prerequisite for writers to love libraries? I’m pretty sure I could bet my life on it. But I don’t think the reason we love books has anything at all to do with words. As I moved through the shelves, I realized holding a book gave a satisfaction all on its own and there was a unique contentment whenever I shut a book’s cover in completion.
I also think the reason writers love libraries has more to do with the ideas, the places, the descriptions and knowledge, than for the sheer love for words. We crave new thought, new ideas, and novel approaches to life. We want to travel to different places, visualize different scenery, and hear new voices. In short, we want intellectual expansion. So the larger the library, the more exploring we get to do and it’s this potential for more that attracts us so strongly.
As I returned to the table where my daughter, and future York University graduate sat, I wondered if all the twists and turns in my life took place so I would begin to write. And maybe, just maybe, my love of libraries had been set from the beginning to get me here.
Bev McLeish has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and English. Her first book, It’s Not Safe to be Happy is available on Amazon, Kindle, Apple iBooks and Barnes & Noble. Bev is continuing to expand her reach through speaking and writing and can be reached at @bevmcleishwrites on Instagram or Facebook.