secret library

Hi everybody,

We are all sunburnt and drowsy from a long, perfect weekend in Cape May. Among activities enjoyed: peanut butter malted milkshakes from Milky Way, a boat ride where dolphins swam by angelically and smiled at us, lobster rolls, a birthday party with three desserts, balloons, a strawberry festival, and just the loveliness of being around people you love. Then I came home, and my catsitter folded our laundry and I had a letter from Paul the bookseller and a copy of an anthology where I had a story published a million years ago and finally got to have the tender moment of seeing my story out in the world. Hooray! 

A picture: 

picking buttercups with Ethan

May 27, 2021

Dear Ethan,

 Today is my five-year wedding anniversary. It seems improbable the three of us haven’t always been together. Five years ago, Jake and I walked into the office of Kim Hoots and filled out a powder blue slip, stood in a small room of the same color with faded white benches, admitted we didn’t bring any witnesses and were married before the eyes of a secretary (witness #1) and her one-year-old baby (witness #2). I was surprised that Hoots mentioned God and was also touched/surprised by the tears in all of our eyes. 

In these five years, we went from Pittsburgh to Houston to Massachusetts. We grew and nurtured you. We’ve had four new jobs between us, lost people, and stood by each other during the various ebbs and flows of our lives. We no longer look the same but look more like each other. 

We drove to the Holyoke Barnes and Noble today because I declared it bigger and better than the Hadley one, and I was right. Walking into that store created a strange expansiveness in me. I was transported back to a small library in McKinney, Texas, which was once a bank, and now holds various municipal offices. 

Jenny and Daisy and I would walk in through the front lobby, and the sliding doors would open. We would peek over to a row of colorful folding mats propped against the wall where various stuffed animals were seated. I can still walk through this library and tell you where the Redwall books were shelved, or the Sweet Valley High or Babysitter’s Club or various books on tape. 

Down the stairs, thick acrylic blocks diffused light into soft yellowish patterns against the wall, which distorted a busy street on the other side. Downstairs in the adult book section, we faced a room of clunky desktop computers, managed by a librarian who had to write down your library card number and told you that you had an hour. Down a dark carpeted corridor my mother used to make copies of EVERYTHING, her pockets ringing with quarters (I think it was 35 cents a copy). The bookcases were tall and heavy, and I could peek through one to see my mom thumbing the small racks of craft books or books in Spanish, earmarking pages she wanted to copy. 

If you exited the worn book stacks, the darkness met light—because the skylights lit up a row of desks with heavy, bright, Texas sunshine. Rows and rows of wooden tables were filled with kids in college, sitting hopelessly thumbing through their assignments. 

It was magical. Sometimes, my dad would drive us to Plano in the rain to visit Half Price Books, and I was bewildered by everything in life there was to say. 

Love, mama  

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