I bet you can’t guess where I was last Saturday. And the Saturday before that. You might think: The DMV? Workshop for Beginners? (For what? Does it matter?) A carnival?
I’ll give you a hint. Here’s what always happens.
There’s a steady trickle of familiar and unfamiliar characters.
The woman with paperwork amassed around her; paperwork which can’t exist without her fingers plumbing their depths, caressing their edges, rearranging their order, thus gifting all around her with a ceaseless rustling like the wind through dry leaves. Except it’s not the wind. And there are no leaves.
The man with a notebook of indecipherable code who intermittently scans the pages between remaining glued to his laptop, drumming on the tabletop, and randomly emitting a low, throaty moan.
The elderly couple having a pleasant conversation in outside voices until they settle down nearby, she wearing slippers, he with pink headphones and a Hello Kitty logo on his computer. (They seem frail and somewhat sweetly eccentric, but if I were a cop I’d still search their apartment or house for bodies).
Someone asking a question as loudly as if they were standing in the middle of an AC/DC concert (or The Killers, say, for people who weren’t alive yet during AC/DC).
The resounding KA-KLUNK KA-KLUNK KA-KLUNK of a woman operating a three-hole punch with the dedication and abandon of one who has existed on their own planet for eons and is unaware of any other intelligent life elsewhere in their universe.
Okay, I’m sure you probably guessed it already. Yes, it’s the library. The days of silence, the days of the schoolmarmish woman glaring and saying, “Shhhh!” are so far dead and gone, one wonders if they actually existed or it was only one’s imagination.
Why do I keep going back? Because I manage to actually get some writing done there, regardless of the zoo-like environment. Away from the demands of home, forcing myself to just sit in one spot. In hard wooden chairs that someone from 1900 designed for the orphan asylum. After a massive amount of time with severe writer’s block (I don’t care what people say; writer’s block IS REAL) I pushed—shoved, RAMMED—through and finally made some headway.
It hurt, too. It felt like strapping on my seatbelt and then deliberately driving my car full speed into a wall. But it worked. I guess the imaginary bone-jarring, artery-slicing collision jolted something back awake. I don’t know.
And anyway, I’m already used to all the sounds and interruptions. As long as I can recapture my train of thought again, I’m good. And now I look forward, sort of, to low throaty moan and Hello Kitty and rustling leaves. ‘Cause sometimes it’s not just noise. Sometimes I can touch it, hold it, eat it, make it something else, make it mine.