While I walk through Downtown Dallas during afternoon rush hour, car honks and ambulance sirens ring off of glass skyscrapers and furiously assault my ears. Disgruntled drivers swerve in and out of traffic with a death wish plastered across their car like a bumper sticker. I cautiously look over my shoulder as I jaywalk across the one way and slip down my favorite side street.
As if I ventured through the wardrobe and into Narnia, I walk down Browder St. soaking in the solitude and serenity that it so generously bestows. I finally release the breath I was holding in, and I allow my feet to find a new, comfortable pace. My eyes gaze up at the 20th century, white brick buildings that stand tall and proud, like old men regaling stories of their youth. I walk under trees that sway in the summer breeze, and the sun peeks through the branches to kiss my cheeks.
I approach an 8-story building with big, sliding glass doors at the entrance. A smile pours across my face.
“Oh, how I’ve missed you” I whisper under my breath.
The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library is a regal and sturdy structure with possibilities practically bursting through the roof. With such a grand entrance, I half expect to see “speak friend and enter” written above it. I continue walking through the automatic doors, and the library welcomes me with an embrace of cool A/C.
Past the lobby and into the elevator, I eagerly head to the 3rd floor where I’m reunited with my dearest of friends. With a slide of the metal doors, I’m transported into a mystical land filled with awe and wonderment – an entire floor dedicated to fiction.
I am met by the familiar smell of used books, and my heartbeat quickens. Here in the peaceful quiet scream hundreds of thousands of adventures – all patiently waiting for me to immerse myself into their pages. Waiting for my eager eyes to explore their stories and come to life.
I meander down each aisle casually grazing my fingertips across the tops of uneven-shaped books. One particular book catches my eye, and I pull at the top and drop it into my hands. As I open the book, it introduces itself to me with a crinkle of its plastic cover.
“How do you do?” it asks me. “Would you like some company?
I carefully read the description and get swallowed up into the world that the author meticulously creates. Suddenly captivated by the ever-thickening plot, I decidedly snap the book closed and place it under my arm.
“I believe I would like some company” I tell the book. “Thank you so much for asking.”
As I stare down the aisle of books climbing to the ceiling, I realize that the library gives me a power. It gives me the power to try.
A library creates possibilities that are boundless. I could read a book about a fickle-hearted woman in the roaring 20’s or a fisherman fighting against his arch-nemesis. A passionate love story seeped in despair or a story of brave men fighting for the poor. How to make apple pie or how to understand the theory of relativity. Where the travel hot spots are or where the wild things are. With a safety net below me (also known as a library card), I can branch out and try new things that I otherwise would not have. I lose nothing, and yet somehow – I gain everything.
Satisfied with the three treasures carefully tucked up under my arm, I walk back up the aisle and make my way to the lobby to check out. As I pass endless aisles and shelves, I feel my curious heart being pulled to them. My fingers itch to feel each book – to let my thumb tenderly flip through the pages. These forsaken books speak to me, longing for their moment of magic. “Next time,” I murmur to each intriguing book I pass.
Next time, I vow.