After school I went to the town library. The sky was bright grey and diffusely glaring as if the sun was about to break through. The bare branches of the late November trees were once again settled with crows who moved lazily and could be mistaken for dark leaves. Shivering in the crisp air, I wrapped my double helix hand-knitted scarf twice around my neck (there was enough material to go around four times and still leave the ends falling over my shoulders), picked up speed and felt the pompom of my matching hat bouncing rhythmically with my steps. The feeling of the pompom reassured me as if childhood was still a possibility to be considered in this strange game I had taken to playing lately.
Until the event of the blockbuster bookstore I have always loved any kind of book store or library, and I had quickly found an appreciation for the smallish library in Summerville (not at least due to pretty and efficient Ms. Clarice) and loved the “Small Rabbit Bookstore” in town, too. The owner of the “Small Rabbit” was a nervous, wiry guy who looked very much like a hare. He rarely talked, never left his corner behind the register, and always wore a hat, even on hot summer days.
The store was nothing much compared the Strand Bookstore on Broadway we used visit too frequently when we still lived in the city, or the Crawford’s Childrens’ Book Store on Madison and 93rd Street, and neither did the Summerville Memorial Library compare to the New York Public library city branch we used to go to every Monday after school. My mother had refined the skill of dragging us, my sister still riding on her hip, through the whole library following without doubt a well planned route, while filling a tote with amazing speed: art books, do-it-yourself-guides for plumbing, mathematical treatises, and any selection of dusty volumes on obscure topics. Feeling out the frail limits our patience predictably imposed on her, she would finally settle down in the kids’ section and spent the next two hours finding treasures for us, reading with us and following my sister’s lead crawling through the labyrinth of shelves.
Sometimes I longed to be back in New York, in our cramped walk-up apartment, sharing a bed-room with my little sister. I also longed to be a mere child a little longer, relying on my mother’s ingenuity to entertain and educate me – often by the same idea. I still loved sitting in her kitchen in the afternoon or at night, talking with her or listening to her monologues on H+, the idea of transhumanism, or her doubt concerning the accepted theory of Vincent van Gogh’s suicide.
I also still enjoyed occasionally joining her on weekends for trips or excursions to the city – but things were different than they used to be. Not as simple. It was understood now that I could say no, that I was allowed to choose my own entertainment. My mother still took my sister Phoebe along on every one of her quests whether Phoebe wanted to or not – but I often decided to stay at home even though it made me feel uncannily excluded.<a