Guys, I did it. After ten months, I went back to the branch of our library system where my ex used to work, where I used to meet him on Wednesday nights for anime club teenager herding and watch him in his element from between the stacks.
It doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, especially since he transferred to Main last July and I’ve been running into him at work randomly and no-so on a far more frequent basis since then. And that branch’s turnover has been enough over the past year that chances were good I wouldn’t see anybody who knew me as anything other than “Did that girl maybe help me sign up for payroll that one time…?”
But I wanted to see how it felt.
So I got in my car and turned up Help! and eased back into the incredibly easy route (seriously, straight-shot driving) and I didn’t cry until “I Need You” came on just as I was merging onto the last leg of highway. That turned into sobs when the building came into view, especially the faint traces of the old bolted-on letters across the side that they took off to put up our new brand sign, but I pulled into the parking lot and wiped my eyes and listened to Ringo sing “Act Naturally” (one of my friends on Ringo: “He’s got a five-note range but they’re the most beautiful five notes!”) and got my GRE primer from my trunk and went inside and everything turned out okay.
I’d forgotten its smell – not something I can describe but it immediately plugged into my brain and calmed me down.
None of the teenagers recognized me or were recognizable, which thank fuck for that because if I had gotten a 3/4 – sized hug from someone asking me where I had been, I would’ve broken down completely.
I got through the GRE review bits I had assigned myself for that day (Dad says I shouldn’t worry about it, that I’ll breeze right through, and the only explanation I can think of is that he must have selective amnesia that forgets how involved he was in helping me pass ninth grade geometry. Which is on the test, by the way) and promptly checked out – ah. Six books. Three of which are on my to-read list, and three that were graphic novels and two of those being the last two in a series I started a while ago, though, so.
In its utter normality, the visit felt like a big victory for emotional maturity and relief. Next week I’m continuing my impromptu self-directed tour of the rest of our system by heading to the branch where I wrote the final edit for my third published short story in the first few weeks of last June. After that are two balls-to-the-wall crazy weekends in a row, so it’ll be May before I get to the branches I’ve actually never been to yet. I like having a plan.
People come and go but books will always be there, and there will always be writing to get done.