I love my neighborhood library, The Jorgensen branch. It is small, smells like a library is supposed to smell and Sean O'Shea works there.
I've been going there since Liv was an infant. After she was born, and I quit my job and went down to part time freelancing, I knew that I was going to have to say goodbye to book stores on a regular basis. I knew that now I would only allow myself to buy ONE book per month. The rest I would have to obtain at the library. I pulled out my old library card that had not been used in a decade of having a high paying job with plenty of money to buy any book I desired.
I looked up my local library, was delighted to find that it was only 9 blocks away and I set off on foot, with Liv in her stroller. She was barely 3 months old. I was 41.
I renewed my card and took a look around. I found that the librarians there were very nice and helpful. They told me that virtually any book I desired could probably be found in interloan library. Liv and I became regulars. We went weekly and I was soon knee deep in good books.
Liv went to toddler story time, to pre-school story time and now joins the summer reading club each year. She knows that the library is a sacred place. We use hushed tones in there and the books are treated gently and with reverance.
Over the years, the librarians have come and gone with the exception of Miss Blanco. I don't know her first name and I would not dare ask her. She is an imposing looking woman who looks like she could take you down if you needed it. I like that about her, especially when patrons bring their loud, bratty children in the library. They soon learn to toe the line or leave Miss Blanco's house.
What they don't know about Miss Blanco is that she has a warm, loving heart under her stern exterior. She has always treated me with respect and deep kindness and I return that to her tenfold.
The children's librarian has changed a lot over the years, but Miss Ex Nun has been there since Liv was 6. She is a small, bird wristed woman, an Emily Dickinson come to life. She has skin that looks like it has been dipped in white porcelain. She knows Liv well and knows her tastes better than I do. She finds books that Liv will like even though she knows that I sigh a little when I see them in her stack. She knew that Liv would adore the Goosebumps series and of course, she does. She also knows that I want her to read the classics, so she makes sure that the chronicles of Narnia are in that stack too. Liv loves everything she selects.
But, my favorite librarian is Sean O'Shea. He reminds me of John Krasinski from The Office. He is 27 and not gay. I know this because that is one of the first things that he told me after he checked me out several times and we chatted. He actually said that exact sentence. He and I were talking about James Michener. We are both fans and I asked what his first name was since he already knew mine. He said, "My name is Sean. Yeah, I know...IRISH!"
I told him that since he knew my last name, that he knew that I was Irish too. I said I liked the name Sean.
"Yeah, well....I like it too. My Da is a Sean, so I am his oldest son. I'm 27. I got my degree in library science a few years ago, but I'm not gay, I just like books. Alot."
I told him that I never thought he was gay, that I WAS gay and he had passed my gay radar test. I said that he was the only other person I knew who called his father "Da" like I did and that I had wanted to be a librarian when I was in high school, but changed my mind and now I regretted it.
He blushed. "I'm sorry. You're a lesbian? I don't have a problem with gay people or anything, I just...well...people assume I am and I'm not and that bothers me. It's bad enough that my Da says I am a nancy boy because I am a librarian..."
Since then, he often checks our books out. I love the way he dresses. Unlike Miss Blanco and Miss Ex-nun, he does not wear librarian gear. He wears jeans and shirts with store logos. He must have a hundred of them. Sometimes, he wears a mechanic's shirt from Sinclair. Other times, he will wear a Goodwill Industries shirt or a Bob's Bar and Grill shirt. He looks like he is just working the desk on his lunch break from somewhere else. I once asked him how he got away with that under Miss Blanco's watchful eye and he told me that she understood that underneath his clothes he had a librarian's heart. She can smell a kindred spirit a mile away he told me.
Yesterday, he had on a Woellner's Grocery Store shirt. Liv had not come in with me, she hadn't finished her books from the previous week yet, so she and Socks the puppy just walked most of the way with me and then stopped at her friend, Wallice's house so that they could play while I went on to the library.
I walked into the library and took a long deep sniff like I always do. This place smells like home to me.
I glanced through the new book section and selected one and then went to check out and to pick up some books that were being held for me. Sean was talking animatedly to a tall, willowly blonde girl in front of me. She looked to be about 20, maybe a few years older. She had on that young girl's must-have low riding jeans and a tiny grey sweatshirt. About an inch of bare skin showed. I remembered when I could get away with an inch like that. Not any more. Her hair was about chin length and very blonde, almost white. She was laughing and doing that flipping of hair gesture that signified I like you a lot...look at me...keep talking to me, you handsome Sean O'Shea....
I was drawn to them, watching, mesmerized. Ah, I thought. God. Young love. When you are at that point in your life where you are looking and hoping and dreaming and then you see someone that just might be that one. Yes, I remember it well.
Eventually, they both noticed me standing there and she smiled and he blushed and she sort of waved and said, "Well....see you next time then!" and he said, "Okay, Sure. Um...yeah." She left and he smiled at me sheepishly.
I smiled back. I leaned over the counter a little to say, "She is very pretty, Sean."
He blushed again and this made me laugh. He laughed too. I waggled my eyebrows at him and he shook his finger at me. Briefly we laughed into each other's eyes again and then he went on to check out my books.
"Well," he said, "I see that you have Hitty, Her First Hundred Years on hold and the new Haven Kimmel book. I am guessing that the first one is for Liv, it's a children's book about a doll, right?"
I said yes, (and by the way, THANK YOU, Kate over at Anthology of Suburban Minutiae for pointing the way to that book for Liv) it was about a doll. I wasn't sure that it was Liv's sort of book, but I was hoping it was.
He went and got the books, noting that you can never go wrong with Haven Kimmel.
"Haven is never disappointing," he said. "A Girl Named Zippy was her best, though."
I agreed. I glanced over to see the blonde girl pretending to be deeply engrossed in a bulletin board about Angelina Ballerina in the children's section.
"You know, Sean," I said. "I think she is hoping that maybe you have some children's books to put away..."
He blushed again and this time, I had to snicker a little wickedly. God, I could practically smell his hormones bursting through his clothes, wanting desperately to go over to the blonde girl and check out his destiny. If he had been Socks, the puppy, he would have shamelessly went up and sniffed her ass.
I turned to go and as I pushed open the door to step outside, I saw that Sean had indeed meandered over to where she stood. They both had high color in their cheeks and they were beaming at each other. Sean looked a little disoriented.
Yeah, get used to that, buddy. I thought to myself.
I picked up Liv and Socks and as we walked home, we kicked the leaves and watched the sun setting and stopped every 20 steps to let Socks smell what he hoped was a bone.
Liv and I shared our day's events, I showed her the Hitty book and she tried hard to look interested and then we drifted into silence, caught up in our own private thoughts.
I went back in my head to Sean and the blonde girl. I just may have been the witness to a story here, I thought.
I can just see them fifteen years from today:
Well, I was a librarian at the Jorgensen branch library when this pretty blonde girl came in and checked out some books. I didn't know it then, kids, but it was your mother. Anyway, we fell in love and.....