kitewithfish: You are the warm rock that my happy lizard self lies upon. (lizardhappy;somethingpositive;)
[personal profile] kitewithfish
She didn't have a library card. That's the part that sunk in, despite the fact that her credit cards and her favorite wallet were gone now, too, and she would have to call and get replacements for all her insurance cards. The stamps were gone, and that check from her aunt too.

But the library card stuck in her mind. She'd been on her way to the Harold Washington Library, massive orange-brown building crowned with outrageous green bronze wings and swirls, when she noticed the wallet was missing. She had to backtrack to the cafe and leave a note in case anyone found it, and then back to the office where she had interviewed to call and check that she hadn't lost it there.

The interviewer let her in, confused, and very nice about it- she let her go back in the interview room and helped check around. They even let her borrow a computer to get the numbers for her banks and credit union and the Chicago police department. She let her out of the office again with a sympathetic smile and promised to call in a week about the position.

She spent the afternoon pacing the plaza around Calder's Flamingo while bankers also cooed and hushed over her and asked if a $2389.56 charge at Bloomingdales was hers? That cleared it up- stolen, not lost. She was miserable and hungry. She couldn't buy lunch like she had planned. It was a warmer day in April, but it was April in Chicago. She'd been standing in the cold for two and half hours now while a cop on the phone congratulated her on not having more than two credit cards.

Her CTA card in a side pocket had escaped- she could take the train home. She had her iPod, she could listen to music. Her phone in a side pocket was fine. Her Kindle in her tote was still there, she could read. But she didn't have a library card. She couldn't go and get the Royko book from the library now, and she'd been trying to find it as an ebook for a week already. It didn't exist. And stealing a library card was just so petty.

She'd had a library card since she was eight, living at the old house in Rhode Island with the public library built out of rough stone that always seemed to swelter or freeze. The first paper card she'd had with the bar code on the back let her take out 10 books at a time. She'd never really bothered to leave the children's section of that library, which had seemed so massive to her back then. The weekly stack of books varied, and eventually even that library card was put aside for one to another library in another state, to be replaced by a college ID that doubled for her course books. Until she got to Chicago and had to sign the back of another chunky piece of plastic for the public library system, and she was in.

It just seemed so pointless, stealing a library card- the credit cards she could understand, and she'd really only lost a couple hours of time with the police and the banks. And the license could be sold and used for underage club goers. The wallet even, which was her favorite by far and a considered choice, to finally put out more money than she needed on something nice and sturdy and matched her purse. She could understand stealing the wallet.

But stealing her library card? For access to books that were already free. For the first little bit of adult responsibility that even little children get to have, that basic right to get out into the world and know things and learn and to have conversations with adults that were not family or parents. For that duty to keep safe library books because they didn't just belong to you, they belonged to everyone, and it was so important that they belong to everyone that towns built buildings and hired staff to make sure everyone could get them. For that security that said even if the internet failed and she never got a job, she could still get things to read. She'd still be a person.

She felt the loss of the credit cards as the loss of a convenience. She felt the loss of the library card like she'd walked into her childhood home to find her bedroom was gone.

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kitewithfish

August 2016

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