On Tuesday evening, out of the blue, I discovered an author and a set of texts of which I'd never heard, and suddenly the rest of my time here looks very different indeed. I spent the end of my morning perched on a bench outside the University Library's admissions office, waiting for a slot between appointments so that I could get an account reinstated and get to work in the rare books room. "You might be waiting for awhile," said a woman who showed up twenty minutes into my wait. Because this sounded to me like a passive-aggressive way of being told that I didn't know what I was doing, I simply replied, in my most contented tone, "I might." And yet it turned out that she was wrong; the woman working the admissions office today was someone I used to see at the circulation desk all the time during the year I lived here, and because she knew that I was waiting patiently (and, truth be told, contentedly), when she finished with one appointment three minutes early, she processed my application and sent me on my way. And then helped the other woman.
Already, then, the day was going well. I'd spent the morning finishing The Handmaid's Tale, feeling a tiny bit guilty for not having been at the library when it opened, only to find upon arriving at the library that they'd had a fire drill not long before my arrival. Then, I'd reaped the rewards that, in my experience, being patient and reasonable often yields.
And then I received the first book I summoned up in rare books. And let me tell you, even before lunch--even before I'd read twenty pages--I knew it was going to be a good one. By the end of the afternoon, when one character's unexpected suicide (by gunshot) struck me as a fitting place to close the book for the day, I'd gotten deeply, speedily engrossed. After some adventures with reacquainting myself with the UL's bizarre classification and shelving scheme, I walked out the revolving door and into a pellucid summer evening, so cool and clean that there was nothing to do but drag my heavy shoulder bag into town for some final touches on dinner and some glimpses at moorchicks and ducklings. A moorhen actually kicked a pesky chick right out of the nest she was straightening; ducklings actually fought with each other in the manner of my brother and me in the backseat of the Malibu, circa 1983. Italian teenagers traveled the backroads of Cambridge in packs of twenty. And I walked westward home happily blinded by an early evening sun, happily freighted with a laptop full of notes and a carrier bag full of treats.