Six years after moving here, I FINALLY got my very first Hoboken Library Card! I’m so excited I could spit. It’s a magical wonderland of literary goodness! I’m still all aflutter from the rush of it all.
I’ve always loved libraries. There’s just something magical about the musty wet old book smell permeating the rooms. Even my tall ass feels downright dainty standing between two rows of towering stacks and peering up at the hardbacks on the top shelf. I’m instantly ten again at the Benjamin Branch of the Greensboro Public Library arguing with Mom that I “CAN SO read the entire Wrinkle in Time series before next week and still do my homework.”
In high school, I fell in love with the GPL’s downtown branch where I’d spend hours working on research papers. They kept all the really juicy old books tucked away in the basement, away from the general public. I’d painstakingly fill out my request slip with perfect penmanship and nervously hand it to the librarian enclosed in her glass walled refuge. I’d practically squeal with delight when she opened the dumbwaiter door and miraculously withdrew my book from the dark space.
The hidden books weren’t the only thing special about the downtown branch. Every couple of hours I’d take a break and sneak into the music room. None of the other branches housed a music collection. There’s something so incredibly soothing about flipping through those plastic covered album sleeves. Mmmm…Zen and the art of vinyl playing. Focus El, we’re talking about libraries today…
Guilford College had a fantastic library, too. It was the perfect balance of artwork, studying areas, and stacks and stacks and STACKS of books. My freshman year found me doing the majority of my winter studying on those pleather covered armchairs. (The roommate was a bit of a nympho and the dorm room was tiny. I can block out lots of noises, but when sweaty limbs are flung across my work space, I need to relocate.)
Hoboken’s library is far from grandiose. While housed in a beautiful old building (built in 1897), it hasn’t been well maintained and efforts to modernize have resulted in hodgepodge renovations that make the space feel tighter and more confusing than necessary. That didn’t slow my excitement one bit as I climbed the stairs and entered the dark foyer. Once my eyes adjusted, I skipped towards the main desk.
A lovely gal with frizzy hair and wide set eyes stood behind the counter, scanning a pile of children’s books for a typical Hoboken mother (blond ponytail, well toned tiny booty in fitness gear, perfectly manicured nails resting on the handle of a brightly colored bugaboo stroller). I hopped from one foot to another while impatiently waiting my turn.
Finally Blondie got out of my way and I nearly tripped as I rushed the counter. The librarian blinked her wide eyes and smiled, revealing an equally wide gap between her two front teeth. I fell in love with her immediately. “I’d like to obtain a library card,” I squeaked. Clearing my throat I added, “Would this be the place?”
“It IS the place,” she cooed as she waved her hands in the air. I was momentarily distracted by her gigantic blood-red butterfly ring.
“Oooo, pretty!” I said pointing.
“Isn’t it?!” She batted her wide eyes in wonderment at her own jewelry. “I do so love it,” she sighed. “Now, do you have your driver’s license?”
“I do, I do, I do!!!” I was practically vibrating with excitement. I know, it really doesn’t take much, does it?
Taking my license from my hand she asked, “And all this info is correct?”
“Yup, yup, yup, yup,” I chanted like those aliens from Sesame Street. My finger tips were turning white from clutching the counter so tightly.
“Now I need a super secret four digit pin number,” she instructed as she typed all my info into her computer. I gave her a super secret four digit pin number. Moments later, she slid a thin, plastic coated card across the counter with a pen. “Just sign and you’re all set!”
I quickly scratched my name across the back and looked back at her. Her wide eyes smiled unblinkingly. Then, I SWEAR to you, we both jumped up and down in excitement. “I can hardly wait!” I panted between jumps.
The guy behind me cleared his throat. “I can hardly wait, either,” he mumbled grudgingly…though I swear I caught a little smirk in his eye, too. All the same, I decided it was wiser to stop hopping at the front of the line, so I set off to max my library card out.
First stop, the media room. Any residual worries I had about quitting Neflix evaporated. Sure, they weren’t the latest titles (and I can’t imagine why they had four copies of Fool’s Gold) but these bad boys were FREE. No question there – free is totally within my budget. In wonder, I turned in a slow circle. Sadly, they had no vinyl. I did find some real jewels in the stacks of CD’s though. Not only did they have the Star Trek Original Television Soundtrack: Volume 3, they also had the Original TV Soundtrack for the Dukes of Hazzard! I assure you, they’re even better than you can possibly imagine. I got downright sentimental listening to Tom Wopat sing Up on Cripple Creek. The highlight, by far, was Rosco P. Coltrane singing his love song to Flash. My sides still hurt.
But wait there’s more!! All that fun was just in one tiny room. Next I roamed aisles and aisles of books. The selection was far from huge, but I’m not worried. The Hoboken Library is linked with a whole mess of larger branches in the area and I can use their collections as my own. Oh the rollickin’ good times my new library card and I will have this winter. I’m giddy in anticipation.
Weaving my way back to the main desk, arms heaped with discs and books, I stumbled into the audio book section. Damn. I LOVE audio books. I can read (ish) and still get something else done – multitasking at it’s finest. I love listening to stories while painting ‘shrooms or walking along the Hoboken waterfront. I just finished Icy Sparks while driving home from NC earlier this week – and it definitely made the ride go faster. I readjusted my mound of materials and decided I could carry one more thing…BUT ONLY ONE! I snatched up a Christopher Moore work and pranced on down the aisle.
Suddenly a bright red apple on a black background caught my eye. I screeched to a halt, nearly spilling the bounty in my arms. SON OF A BITCH! In shiny, plastic coated majesty, high on a shelf, sat the Twilight series. They taunted me, the light glistening on their black spines. Sighing, I looked down at my straining arms. “El, this is a pretty heavy pile to carry ten blocks, already,” I thought. “You have a lot to do this week. Those audio books are bad news. Walk away.”
Bad Elly screamed, “Fuck it!” She continued, “Drop everything else and just take home the audio books. How good can the Dukes of Hazzard be anyway?” (Correct answer: SO GOOD!)
After a solid ten minutes of internal debate, I decided it was bad form to leave a pile of discarded items in the middle of the audio books aisle while licking a stack of shiny black plastic on my very first visit to the library. After all, that librarian was so lovely and helpful I’d hate to frighten her off so early in our sure to be long and enduring friendship.
Next week though, those bitches are MINE.