Saturday, September 20, 2008

A rainbow to call my own

Last week, I returned to UBC, where I had pursued my first two university degrees.  Since I was there last, the main library had been renovated. The only part that had been kept was a portion of the old stone facade in the front and the vaulted entryway. It was a strange feeling, entering that library again after all these years. My mind was busy searching for the image of the low-ceilinged floors, the shelves jammed with ancient volumes that had probably not touched scholarly hands in decades, the occasional lonely soul sitting by the window, reminiscent of a captive in a medieval prison tower. I used to be one of those people who would frequently self-inflict this exile, escape into the dark library, navigate the labyrinthine stairwells and emerge onto one of the upper floors, all in order to find a small piece of quiet to call my own.

So, there I was, bursting through those wooden doors, to be confronted by wide open spaces, beautiful art adorning the walls, huge floor-to-ceiling windows along the back wall. It was a completely different universe. My mind had the utmost trouble reconciling the inner image with the image newly created by the visual feast.

Mind you, I love the new library. I could envision myself stretched out on a comfy lounge-chair, with a book in hand. I could envision myself walking along the bookshelves, gently brushing my fingers along the spines of the books.  I could envision myself sitting in a corner and doing absolutely nothing, just sitting quietly for hours.

As I exited the main UBC library last weekend, I noticed a rainbow at my feet. I had actually not intended to revisit my old alma mater that day at all. I had driven to the beach, to take in the glorious day, but could not find parking. I kept driving along the shore, and somehow, I ended up by UBC. It was as though something subconscious within me knew that I was supposed to see the new library, to find that rainbow by my feet.

Everything considered, I still miss my old library -- my dark corridors, my low ceilings, my musty volumes -- if for no other reason than the feeling that it was mine. It's too bad that I had decided not to return to UBC this semester to take my new courses. I would never be able to claim those prisms of light, those rainbows, as mine. Instead, I'm up the mountain at Simon Fraser. I have yet to find a space there to call my own, my little escape, my sitting, breathing space. Maybe I'll start my search on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to see the new library, but I gotta say, I won't miss the old dungeon!