Longing for Home

2 Jun

I was in a supervisors meeting this morning and as has become the norm, we had some discussion about how and when we might return to the library after being away from there since mid-March. This is our new normal, to use a phrase that makes me just a bit sick to my stomach. Masks and tests and cleaning and spaced seating – all things to accept, get used to, plan for. At one point, my director said that we need to figure out who benefits from the library being open, as a physical space (because we’ve not missed a beat, in terms of working in this virtual environment). We think about our patrons – students, faculty, staff, clinicians. When and how do they benefit by reopening the library?

Upon hearing this question, I found myself saying, “What about me? I benefit from the library being open.” I don’t mean this selfishly. I’m not storming any gates or marching in the streets to protest the measures we’ve taken to control this pandemic, but that said, I’m tired of this virtual working world. The library – the physical place with my desk and my computer, surrounded by my colleagues, the cafeteria down the hall, the lawn outside, people milling about – I benefit from all of this. When you think about it, I’ve spent an awful lot of my life there. And it’s a life that I’ve enjoyed.

I can easily do the work that I do from home. I’m so very proud of the staff in my department, of all of my colleagues in the library, for how quickly and seamlessly we moved into this means of working. We have addressed every question, every issue. We’ve solved problems, taught classes, zoomed a thousand hours. We can do it.

I love my home, I love the slower pace of my mornings, I love starting my days with the NY Times crossword puzzle and my coffee. I appreciate doing my laundry whenever I feel like it. I like not taking a shower until the middle of the day, if I want. I enjoy taking a mid-afternoon break to walk my dog in the park. I’ve relished watching spring arrive – all of the baby birds, the baby bunnies, the plants blooming. I’ve been astounded by all of the neighbors I’ve met and spoken to. I’ve found a dozen different ways to nurture my creativity, to devote some time to it that I don’t always do when I’m in the routine of work. And I know how absolutely fortunate I am for my situation and I am most grateful for it.

All of this.

And yet.

I want to go back to work. I want to get up, walk my dog, iron my clothes, take a shower, pack my lunch, and head out the door. I want to sit at my desk, see the people that I work with, see the faculty and staff and students that I work for. I’m tired of emailing. I’m tired of zooming.

I want to walk out of work at the end of the day, drive down Shrewsbury Street, stop at one of my neighborhood pubs I enjoy, see friends that I know. I want to go to my guitar lesson on Friday afternoons. I want to play trivia on Wednesday nights. I want to enjoy being home on the weekend, because I’ve not been in my home all week. I want the boring, mundane, 9-5 work week back. I do! I miss it.

Typing this, I feel pretty petty, whining about all of this as my country seems to be coming apart at the seams. But I also cannot help but believe that there’s a connection to all of this. Whatever our “libraries” are – our work, our schools, our routines, our lives – they’ve all been disrupted. For months. Toss into the equation the horrible fact of systemic racism and a feckless, impotent, pathologically insane person in the White House and an evil-to-the-core leader of the Senate and of course we’re going to blow up. For every good and every wrong reason, we are going to explode.

So, yes. I want my library to reopen. For me. And I want yours to reopen for you, too. I honestly believe that we all need it. Now.

3 Responses to “Longing for Home”

  1. Margo McIntire June 2, 2020 at 2:09 pm #

    In a recent zoom meeting a colleague referred to our situation as the “New Abnormal.” I rather like that. UVA has announced that they plan for students to return in the fall, and Noah has bemoaned the fact that he probably won’t be able to study in one of his favorite libraries as he did last year.

    • salgore June 2, 2020 at 6:44 pm #

      I bet the libraries will be open. If the students are back, they’ll open.

  2. Angela Benford June 6, 2020 at 11:34 am #

    All of this. You have summed up my feelings right now. I am back at the office (I am not a librarian, but I am studying for my MLIS) – but there are so many other things I am missing. May your library open safely, and soon!

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