“I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry. Don’t cry. You won’t be able to stop. Don’t start.”
It seems like lately I’ve walked into many places thinking this. I get anxious before tests and decision making, two things I have been doing quite a bit lately. But I don’t often leave a place with this running through my head. There was no crushing medical diagnosis. No loss of a much needed job. No one died. You may laugh, but I was leaving the library. I’ve been volunteering there for over a year now, and this afternoon was probably my last day. I’m starting college next week.
When I told the children’s librarian that this was my last day she smiled and said “Well, I guess I knew you would get a life some day.” But I didn’t work at the library because I didn’t have a life. I worked there because I loved it, and it was part of my life. It was a hard year for me. I was figuring out life. Who I am. I was hard on myself, even cruel at times. My future went from set and definite to this current state of flux and uncertainty I’m in now. But no matter how rough of a week I was having, or how tired I was, every week I would have the library. Two hours when it didn’t matter what else I did with my life. All that mattered was that J comes before K and 4 comes before 5. It reminds me of in A Wrinkle in Time how Meg goes through the multiplication tables to calm down, because it is steady and unchanging. Alphabetizing and shelving books is the same for me. There’s nothing trivial about it, Bab goes before Bac, and when it feels like your world is doing backflips, that is a very comforting thought.
When the branch manager heard that I was going to school she said “Isn’t this enough education for you?” We all laughed, but I learned so much in those two hours a week. I’ve never really kept any kind of job that wasn’t super flexible for a very long time. Even though I could tell them I couldn’t come one week or that I needed to change from Friday to Thursday, I was still expected on a certain day, at a certain time, unless otherwise specified. I took debate and bible quiz, but those were both things that I did in school and I couldn’t change the time that classes and meetings were. Volunteering was the first thing I did where I was in charge of deciding I was going to do something, and then do it. It sounds weird, but I kind of learned how to adult. I was expected to be grown up. I was expected to not make a mistake. I was expected to straighten up other people’s mistakes when I noticed them. I learned that I can be liked by people who don’t have to like me. Maybe these are both odd things to learn from working for free at a library, but that’s where I learned them.
I can’t believe I’m starting school on Monday. It will be an adventure unlike any I’ve ever taken. I’ve traveled alone all over the country. I’ve witnessed firsthand the birth of 3 of my siblings. I’ve been pseudo-mom to around 20 girls. Getting up in the morning, driving, sitting through classes of more than 10 people, studying, and interacting with people I’m not related to on a daily basis. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle this, but I bet I’ll end up back at the library.