I was so excited to go to the library today.
It had been years since I set foot in a library. The last time was, well, I cannot remember when the last time was, I just remember that it had a row of computers that always seemed in use. And the end of the rows were marked with papers that said which kind of books could be found there. I read a lot then. I even read several biographies, which was weird but oddly satisfying. I can remember many details about the library but not where or when it was.
None of this should surprise me, given how things went down at the library.
I drove up and had trouble deciding which space to park in. Some spaces were labeled “20 Minute Parking” and I debated using one of them. I did not think I would be there longer than 20 minutes, and yet I might, and if I was, what then? Swarms of Library Parking Police descending on my car and towing it away to who-knows-where while I stand forlornly in the parking lot, helplessly shaking my fists in the air?
I got out and walked toward the building. The sun was in my eyes, emitting a blinding glare. I kept walking toward the large dark shape in front of me. It was U-shaped. There were doors on the left and doors on the right. Which door? I started walking toward one but it was marked “Gallery”. The other door was marked “Auditorium”. Neither one seemed very library-ish. At last as I continued to walk the glare subsided and I saw huge double doors in the center looming out of the darkness. “Library”. Okay, we’re in.
Next up was finding the place where they give out the library cards. I saw one desk marked “Help”. There were three or four people gathered around it. I thought I would lose my nerve if I had to wait in line so I looked around and saw a desk all the way over to the left marked “Accounts”. Why we need Accounts at libraries I do not know. There was no one there. I thought I might have to change my strategy but maybe if I stood there, trying to radiate “please help me I need a library card so I can read again and make my brian work” waves, someone would take pity on me. A name tag-wearing woman pushing a cart filled with books must have felt my waves because she asked me why on earth was I there (I think she was actually a reptile), and muttered to me that this other, tag-wearing lady with glasses would help me.
By this point I had used up my Brain Hours just getting to the right desk inside the actual library.
The rest of my time there was spent in a confusing haze of signing forms in pencil (?), admitting I could not remember a password I had set up less than a week ago, or even that I had set up a password at all, and trying (unsuccessfully) to put a little library-card-keytag on my keyring. Then I went to the “Help” desk and asked about renting ebooks and the ladies politely did not correct me and say “no, dear, here we borrow books, not rent them” and they told me I had a choice of two apps to download to make the book rental thing work and one of them was called Libby and all I could think about was Libby Hall, my boss for about six months when I was 25, I think her last name was Hall. Pretty sure her name was Libby. What is Libby short for, anyway? Liberty or Death? I hope not.
Then I walked down the two little aisles of DVDs for rent/borrow and used a computer to see how many copies of Lincoln in the Bardo they have for rent, and could not at first make the mouse scroll down the page until I tried it the opposite way and realized it was probably not a Mac and therefore I would be unable to operate it because I have forgotten how.
I’m pretty sure I could’ve parked in the “20 Minute Parking” space.
So I am scared because it should not be this hard to get a library card. I am scared because I should not be exhausted and out of Brain Hours just walking into a new place. I am scared because my days are so very long now and I can barely remember what I think of as the bottom of them, which is the part closest to when I wake up. I am scared because most of the day I just long to be asleep again. I am scared because I cannot remember many things. I am scared because my beloved thinks I don’t reason very well and cannot be trusted to make decisions. I am scared because I don’t know if my brain can be fixed. I am scared because I might never get any better. I am scared because there is a good chance I will get worse even though my neurologist said he doesn’t think I will get worse. I am scared because I don’t know where I am anymore. I am scared because I don’t know if I will find myself again.