*** ‘Vignette City’ is an ongoing project of daily writing and urban photography ***
How many semesters has it been? Do you count the summers? Our work doesn’t get lighter in the summers, just easier to do. It gets lonelier though. I have always liked working here, all these semesters. I like the lives all around me, all the energy around me. Youth, I catch some of it by osmosis. I always feel better in the Fall when all the new ones show up, wet with optimism, nerves, and hope. My joints ease, my soul get greased and smooth.
I never got to go to college. But I feel it in me. I look at the chalkboards each night before I wipe them clean. Sometimes - when I have the time - I erase the chalk lines by running my flat finger along them. I’ve traced the letters NaCl, I have followed with my own fingertip the formulas for gravity, for the nature of spheres, I have unwritten the words, “Freedom of consciousness entails more dangers than authority and despotism” and in doing so absorbed bodily something of them. I can tell you that as buildings go, the library is no smarter than any other building, but perhaps it contains more knowledge. Maybe so do I.
Over the years I have named all the squirrels and I know where they live and I have seen generations of them come and go and sometimes when I see one of them, I can remember her great-great-grandmother and it reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude, that I read because one of the English professors assigns it every spring and so I read it once and it changed my life some small amount and so at night in his classroom, I would write a line from the book on his chalkboard and I never talked to him about it and he never asked me why every morning he found the words of Garcia Marquez there in his classroom, and maybe that was because he could see how it made the world just a tiny fraction better.
On the nights when we check the furniture, I use my notes to practice the precision of my language. This chair here for instance, I will describe as though I love it a little, but still can see it for what it is. I think I will write:
Some of the adjustments
a little, at first,
but function, eventually.
The cushion padding,
A little gum stain, shaped
like a conch shell,
makes the seat seem dirty.
Just an old chair.