Last night I had some writing to do, so I braved the frigid air and went to the library so I wouldn’t have to listen to the background noise of my neighbors either having sex or—worse—inane conversations. It always amazes me how many people are at the library at any given time. There are your readers, obviously, and people working on computers, a few sleepers, and some doing school work. Then there’s the guy who’s watching a movie on his laptop, and the other guy who’s just sitting there with a magazine in front of him that he’s not reading.
It’s all very comforting to me for some reason.
When I was in college, I didn’t visit the library too often, but when I had to do research in a book that couldn’t be borrowed, or if I just needed a place to study that wasn’t the dorm room I shared with 3 people, I would settle into a private cubicle in the corner on a high floor with low traffic and be so content to just sit there doing work. I hated studying (did you need that clarification?), but for some reason, sitting in silent solitary confinement made it better.
New York City libraries don’t offer quite the same experience, since it’s not always so quiet (the girl next to me was muttering things like, “This is ridiculous,” under her breath the entire time I was there) and most of the time the mix between people who have places to go home to and those who don’t is about equal, but sitting there in semi-silence still feels good to me.
So yesterday I stayed until the library closed. I thought the space might begin emptying out an hour or so before everyone was kicked out, but it didn’t really. Many of the patrons stayed there till the very end, like me. And I don’t know if it’s just because I spend my days by myself now, but it had a hint of solidarity to it. Even if that guy was going home to his wife, and that woman was going back to her dorm, and that other guy didn’t have anywhere in particular to go, we were all in our own little worlds there, separately, but together.
What I mean is—I’m lonely. And it felt slightly less lonely at the library. So this new thing may become more of a regular thing.