Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Timeless Love

All pictures taken with my iPhone

It was a torrid love affair that began before I could formulate a coherent sentence. The moment my grubby little hands laid hold on a Little Golden Book I was enchanted forever. My first love-my love for books-has only intensified in its temerity. At the age of 5 I wrote a letter to Santa Claus requesting a collection of one thing: books.To my delight the bearded old man delivered my heart's desire despite my worthiness of coal. Over the years I begged, borrowed, and stole for books. My shameless reading lust was never satiated after completing a book. I immediately began reading another before the glow of the previous adventure dissipated. In my awkward and tumultuous teen years I starved myself during lunch, saved my money, and made my parents drive me to the mall every Friday night so I could buy the latest Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys installment. (I blame that period of starvation for my stunted growth in the uhh...chest department. At least that's how I have deluded myself.) 

Before my 3 children could walk I tried to cultivate their own love affair with books, fanning the flames with nightly bedtime readings that would pique curiosities and spark inquisitive minds. Although they read and enjoyed our outings to the library and bookstores I mourned their lackluster passion for the written word. I was almost disappointed that I never had to reprimand them for reading at the dinner table, or ruining their eyesight while reading in the car, or ground them for staying up late in the dark reading a book illuminated by a flashlight. They never walked out of a library staggering with a stack of books so high that their spine was threatened with scoliosis. (I truly believe the cervical stenosis I suffer in my 40s manifested from carrying so many books.)  In my total consumption of books I defied  rules, ready to reap the consequences. But my children never risked anything for books and I was content in their obedience. My own love affair for books continued into adulthood and it contributed to my mounting debt. Barnes and Noble and Borders were the "drug" dealers feeding my unholy addiction.  When I recently learned that Borders was bankrupt and in the process of liquidation I felt as if I had just heard the news that a beloved lover contracted an incurable and fatal disease. 

In the past 5 years I've watched my niece Micaela with growing excitement. During family get-togethers half of her head was submerged in a book, oblivious to the noise indicative of the Ricaforte family. I secretly whooped when I heard she stayed up late in the darkness reading a book via flashlight. My heart pounded every time I saw the faraway look in her eyes whenever she looked up from reading and knew her mind was still embroiled in the adventure within those pages. So when her mom asked if I could take Micaela to the Cerritos Library I was extremely elated! (To see pictures of Micaela perusing books, please click here.)  I promised myself that this year I would focus on family and strengthen my relationships with the next generation. The Cerritos LIbrary was the perfect venue for familial bonding!

You see, obtaining a Cerritos Library card is darn near impossible for non-Cerritos residents. The annual non-resident fee is $100 and I decided to funnel my funds toward Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Amazon. In hindsight, $100 per year was a cheaper alternative than the thousands of dollars I've spent at other places. Although I couldn't check books out I was never deterred from spending valuable time at the Cerritos library, admiring their architecture and relishing in being surrounded by the multitudinous array of books. Can you imagine how the gears of my devious little mind cranked when I officially became Ray's girlfriend 2 years ago? He's been a resident of Cerritos for over 30 years and I still joke that the only reason I'm with him is because he holds the key to my heaven-on-earth. This breathtaking library has become my sanctuary; the refuge from the noisy world and the tranquil escape where I can edit my photos or daydream to my heart's content.  

Now it has become the hallowed ground where my niece and I can spend countless hours on a scavenger hunt for the books our hearts are set on. It is one of the sacred places where our love affair for the written word will thrive and flourish. As technology intrepidly advances and spawns a new breed of e-readers I hope Micaela and her offspring fiercely protect the spirit of books should the world feel it no longer needs them.