Time travel is more than a trip of fancy. Because it’s a trip I’ve taken many times myself. I’ve traveled back through the dizzying kaleidoscope of my life. Past the years of hard work. To my college days and campus life and a special place.
I would not go to this special place, on those crisp days of fall when touch football games became tackle in the way that men will always play as boys. Oh never would you find me there, on the long days of spring, when the sun chased the snow away. And the girls would fly, now unfettered from their winter’s coat, in their provocative spring plumage.
Oh but on those long winter nights, when my car’s battery would only gurgle like the unfortunate whizzing of an asthmatic aardvark. On those cold nights, when I couldn’t bare to lose another game of beer pong. On those endless, nights when I tired of the ruckus of the Frat. I might, quietly, steal away to the library.
The greatest challenge of going to the library is finding your own spot. This spot is entirely individual. I formed quite an apt judgment on people by where they chose to study.
The reference room was for those looking for a quickie. The quick fix of knowledge for the last minute report. Periodicals, well that’s were the studious social butterflies would go. And of course studious and social is an oxymoron. The serious students fought gravity and ascended to the heights. Either the third or fourth floor halls. These were cavernous spaces systematically filled with tables which accumulated the students guano. I would sometimes study here, but only as a last resort.
Even now I reverently remember the phrase “The Stacks”.
Here I found small one person tables, nested deep in the womb of the library, amid the stacks of aging books, whose titles were usually on the esoteric and sometimes on the incomprehensible. Here is where I’d try be. I’d prepare for a trip to “The Stacks”, like a mountaineer prepares for an assault on a great peak. I’d load my backpack with hardware my books would be the maps to guide me, my pen and pencil, the pitons and carabineers. And of course I’d bring nourishment. Vital nourishment, usually I could dig up some donuts and a soda. I needed that soda to stay awake.
Staying awake was the greatest challenge of the conquest. First, it was so quiet. So quiet that the humming of the fluorescent lights sounded like a mosquito as it flies over the bed when you’re trying to fall asleep. So quiet, that the old radiators would crackle like the fading embers of a wood fire. So quiet that the annoying tapping of the person in the desk next to door would merge with the dream state that I’d irrevocably find falling into. I’d think, a nap, just a few moments, or maybe a minute, I would rest my head on my folded arms.
A deafening sound, like a cough and I’d wake, often with a stiff neck. I’d turn my head and rub my neck feeling the creaking and crackling of my vertebrae. The air was so dry my sinus’ would feel like they’d become a piece of paper which was inadvertently put through the drier. And before long, I’d add my cough to the gentle harmony coughs. Yawning, I would rise and select a seemingly harmless book. “Flatworld”. I’d think, maybe it’s like Westworld No, I’m on 2B, Science and Mathematics. Imagine how difficult it is for a tired person to stay awake reading about the concept of how everything can be represented as composite of single points.
Put that evil book down. Out of my pack comes the heavy artillery; a Jolt soda. The sizzling fizzing battery acid assailed my teeth as it roughly coarsed its way down my throat. Caffeine--supercharged! Back to, chemistry more chemistry, more genetics, more microbiology. I’d give my major up for a novel, or the approval to listen to music.
I did just that. On one of those winter nights. I changed my major realizing that I wasn’t the stack sort of person. I wasn’t even a cavern sort of person. On my next trip to the library I took a quickie in reference room.