Since the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of our lives in this city, my family has been going to the same library.
Every weekend, my mother would bundle the four of us kids up and we would begin the trek down the street to the library. It was not a far walk, by any means, but it seemed that way to us. A baby in a stroller, an older toddler, a geeky trouble maker, me (practically perfect in every way), and Mom wandered down the 4 or 5 blocks to the library.
We had certain rules and guidelines before we were let loose in the library. No running, no yelling, and only as many books as we can carry home. This usually meant 10 - 15 children's books for me. It wasn't near enough, but I knew we would be coming back the next week.
Many of the librarians in our library were there from the beginning. There is the lady who looks like Dave Foley in drag, the lady with the really long hair and low voice, the other lady, and the one who we moved next door to about 15 years later. They were the staples of our library. They knew our names, what we liked to read, what grade we were in, and which movies were playing on Kid's Movie Day.
I never really thought about them much. I knew they would always be there. I knew that the one with the long hair would sneak me racy Western novels when I was 13 and Mom wasn't looking. I knew they existed in the library, but didn't think of them in the outside world. To me, they would just always be there.
This week, I went in to get a new library card. The long haired librarian with the smokey voice was there. She instantly knew who I was despite the fact it had been years since I had seen her. She asked about my sisters, my brother, my father in Ukraine. She was thrilled that I had gotten married and wanted to know all about it.
We talked about the last time I got a new card (I was 12 and thus allowed to check out books without Mom's permission!) and how many years it had been since I had been visiting the branch. We thought about it and realized it has been over 25 years. She laughed. The first time she met our family, she was 10 years younger than I am today.
Getting older is a bitch.
We chatted for a bit and I carried on my way with a handful of knitting books and a promise to come in and visit more often. I thought about it and realized how lucky we are. It is a rare place indeed where the staff of an establishment watches you grow up and becomes such a huge part of your life.
I like how small the world is some days.