So, the first thing you might want to know is this: Whenever I find an author whose style leaves me counting days for their newest publication like a kid for summer, the safari starts. That gotta get their newest, map-out arrival and hold, stake-my-claim hunt. Especially when it comes to books from British roots…astonishingly still taking the slow boat over here, even in cyberspace, three to six months after publication.
Though, why we Americans have to stand thirsting so long on the shore for all great things Brit, like novels and Downton Abbey, pining over sliced tidbits doled out like ice chips to the parched is another topic…
Yesterday, while one store was taking 20 minutes to fill an order, the library down the road beckoned as I recalled a new English cosy, published last fall, was finally due here. I could dash on over and be back to get this store item in 15 or so.
“Oh, someone’s already taken it out,” the information librarian brushed off, nonchalantly as I zipped in. “We actually got it a month early…”
“Wha-at? And you didn’t call me??” As irrational as that thought was and considering I might just confirm to this kid that women close to his mom’s age can be a bit batty, I decided to leave it unspoken.
“But…hmm…,” he went on, eyes on computer screen, “it looks like we might have it in a couple of other branches. I could have it sent over in a week…”
A week was nuts if it was at a close branch, so I asked which ones, quickly calculated an out of the way stop to pick it up. Graciously, he made the calls, drummed his fingers as the first – and closest – took inordinately long to search, then came up empty despite the computer’s precise pinpoint of treasure hidden in plain sight. Not surprising to me, lately. Though one of our most beautiful libraries overlooking a lake, it seems a bit disorganized whenever I’m there.
At the second, farther out choice, he confirmed the book on hold for me. Not really that far, but off the beaten track. “I’ll take it,” I shrugged. Kind of remembering how the building had looked a bit rough the last time I’d passed it, I mentally plotted the most direct way over there once I stopped back at the store…
There it was… still as empty looking… yet a car was coming out as I turned in. Strange though… all pathways snow-plowed, but every parking space knee deep. I pulled over to the stop for fire only side where I’d never usually park, got out to brave the ice tundra in front, praying not to fall, till I could see for sure.
Yep. Nothing inside. Abandoned.
I looked up and down the street. No moved to new location signs. No… clues… whatsoever. Nada.
Gingerly, I crackled over splitting ice back to my car door, a sudden Walter Mitty thought shivering over me.
What if I’d fallen out here? Visions of one time when I did fall and break a leg, conjuring pictures of doing that here…in… the… middle…of…nowhere. Stranded like a penguin on an iceberg. No one much on this road, would they even spot me prone there by an empty building? (And how stupid was it to think someone could be in there – where would they have parked? Well, I’d kind of assumed an out back employee lot, but still…)
Ughhhhhh…. Pulling away on that shuddering image of myself, I surmised the quickest way to finding the new location. Stop and ask.
A colonial-looking building was to my immediate right – seemed a likely place. No real signs giving away the business, it looked like a bank. But as I opened the door, I knew.
Uggg… another shudder ran up my spine like a skittery mouse. Utter quiet in a disturbingly loud way. That slightly perfumey odor I guess is supposed to be comforting, but leaves me a bit creeped out. A single light over a live screen computer flashing images across a wall in a cell of a room. All else – dank, dim and empty.
I walked towards a muffled sound of someone rummaging in back maybe getting a coffee in a break area, peered into a back room where a woman was sitting on the floor among boxes. And… um…sample caskets – sticking out like dresser drawers stuffed in a wall. Okay… ask and get out quick.
“Oh!” she said, like a kid caught with jam all over her face, possibly not supposed to be away from her front post at the door, “I didn’t hear you come in…”
“Not a problem,” I quickly jumped in, “I just have a fast question… I was just looking for the K. library and I see it’s abandoned next door?”
“Mm…how to tell you directions?” she mused, smiling, then pointing me up the road a bit and over to a recently refreshed area. It dawned on me then…ah! I knew exactly where it was. Maybe even in some dim recesses of my mind, I’d noticed it there before out of peripheral vision. Why hadn’t I thought?
“It’s a beautiful new building…” she said as I thanked her and tried not to barrel forward and out. Icy air replenished me as I left the smothering feel of that place, cringed at what it must be like to work there in that mustiness, turned my car towards change. And new life.
And as I drove around the corner, on up to the newly refurbished road, spied the gorgeous new building, entered the state of the art complex, found my book waiting with my name in the pick up section, ran my card under the computer scanner and held the book to my chest on the way out…
A question and a thought rumbled over me…
Why had I headed over to that old location, knowing somehow in my past experience of driving by, that it had to have been moved? How had I somehow pushed that out of mind and thought it must still be there?
Was it just being used to a pattern – like putting the car on mindless automatic pilot? Sometimes I do find myself driving the tried and true way I usually take to the grocery store, even when I meant to take a left at another intersection, get to a different, brighter place faster…thoughts racing ahead on millions of things. Then stop and berate myself… now why did you just go that way when you told yourself to go the other? Habit.
A thought whispered…
Maybe it’s being stuck in an old way of thinking.
Trying to spy signs of resurrection for something dead and buried and moved on.
And needing to stop at a funeral parlor to pass from death into life… See the way to Heavenly places He won for us and seated us in to live in even here and now…
Sometimes my children want to go back to Egypt when I have something new and lovely and exciting planned and waiting ahead… in a land of promise.
I can see that in my own life. Certain old things have passed away, like ways I looked to bring income, but I can tend to think I need to start looking where I left off, even as I yearn to see glimmers of beauty and light ahead. Or difficult times gone through, overshadow new fresh starts ahead. Still carrying weight shed miles back.
Like Dorothy, I can barely imagine Emerald City for the forest. I look back at fires, lions, tigers and bears… and oh, those flying monkeys!… but God says keep moving, take My hand, the new plan is just ahead, beautiful and shining, I open up for you…
On the way to the High road.
How about you? What is it from the past that might be holding you back, or setting you in a now abandoned and iced over lot of nothingness? What new way do you see Him pointing ahead and what step can you take in that direction?
© Pam Depoyan
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