In the spring of my sixth-grade year, my friend asked me if I wanted to skip school with her. She was part of an eclectic group of middle schoolers who left campus often for things like fast food, hanging out, and anything other than dull afternoon periods. I was terrified, but coming into a braver version of me, I agreed.
As we were walking the streets of our small desert town she asked me what I wanted to do– hanging out at one of our homes wasn’t an option for either of us. Without much thought, I asked, “Can we go to the library?”
I knew it was a nerdy response for a middle school girl, in 1988, to make. She was reluctant in her agreement, but this was what we did.
Our town library was fairly small by public library standards, but it was amazing to me… mostly because I hadn’t ever been. I had begged my mother for years to take me to the library for books, but she always said “No”. She told me it was too expensive. She told me a lot of things to discourage me from asking, but her excuses never took away my deeply rooted desire to walk among the stacks.
Someone saw me going into the library in the middle of a school day and called my mom. I sat curled up and looking through a stack of books, in absolute heaven, when I caught sight of her storming up the walkway to get me. This marking of my first time in a library would also be the only time I ever saw my mother in one.
When I was fourteen I had a not-so-secret relationship with a boy named Michael. This boy wouldn’t be my first kiss, but maybe my first love. He definitely became my first love OF kissing, as we were swept up in kissing pretty much anywhere we could manage.
Fourteen is such a magical, difficult age. Especially for us. We were both kids in a very conservative Christian children’s group home. Things like dating, and especially kissing, were not allowed. A million years later I have to wonder if part of the magic of those days was in discovering the secret places to make out, in addition to discovering each other.
Of the many hiding spots we found, my very favorite was on Tuesdays when our high school class took trips to the nearest public library. Living in a new town, this library was filled with nooks and crannies to duck into and explore. It was magic.
The books were magic too. As restricted as almost every aspect of our lives were–there seemed to be little overseeing of what books we checked out. I suspect certain adults thought reading kids were quiet and behaving kids. This is not true.
I still feel my knees go a little weak when I step into a library… the smells of decades of books and possibilities… Everything about it feels like untapped magic.
Possibly though, there is still that slight prick of something forbidden and beautiful to be had there and I’m not going to lie–I love that part too…
Psst… hey you, did you happen to see that my memoir Girls, Assassins & Other Bad Ideas is finally out? You can learn more about it and grab a copy by going here!
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