Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Filling the void

Today, I ventured downtown to the central library to sit and study, and, more importantly, to be with people, albeit strangers. I went to the circulation desk to inquire about getting a library card again. As it turned out, I was no longer in the system because I had been away for so long. Sadly, without proof of my current address on me, I could not acquire a new library card right away. But it still felt comforting to walk along the aisles of books, to see what a happening place the library was. I could almost envision the gears turning within the minds of all the patrons who sat with their laptops plugged in at the desks, writing their papers. It was wonderful to feel as though I belonged.

After a couple of hours of reading over my Psychology notes, I grew restless and burst out into the late afternoon toward the busy shopping district. I stopped by Cafe Artigiano again and ordered myself a mocha and a turkey panino. Crammed into that cozy space, there was a table of Japanese students to my left, while the young couple to my right switched back and forth between French and English. I could have sat there forever, taking it all in, breathing in the aroma of the baked goods and the coffee, feeling myself being wrapped up by the city, by the simultaneous anonymity and warmth amongst strangers.

As dusk fell, I walked out again, joining the throng that hurried either toward home after the workday, or toward the stores for holiday shopping. The bookstore beckoned, and I could not resist. I came away with three beautiful hardcover volumes, and suddenly felt richer, fuller, more complete. It's been a while since I've read a novel. I used to devour fiction, so insatiable was my hunger. But since starting life as a student again, I've been inundated with scholarly articles and textbooks, which, as fascinating as they have been, could never fill the void and satisfy the yearning of that other part of my mind, the part that ached to be swept away, to be challenged, to be taken both deeper within myself and toward the outer reaches of experience.

Sadly, the books will have to sit and wait to be read. I can't touch them for another two weeks, not until I have my two major papers written and my four final exams done. I'll bring them along for my Christmas vacation, for the two weeks when I'll be lounging on the beach with three dear friends in the Dominican Republic.

But, right now, it's back to the books... the textbooks, that is....

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