The Big Building
I absolutely had to make myself get up, and get out of the house. No one was home, no one was coming home, and I couldn’t just rot there, on the couch, on the bed, as I had all week. Mother said to do something for myself, so I thought of what I wanted to do.
I wanted a library card.
There are many many….many libraries in NY. The closest one to me is closed until August or September due to asbestos, the second closest is 10 blocks away (walking distance) but I haven’t bothered to go. It’s too dirty here, and “ghetto” as some people (myself included) are calling it. It exists, and I live in it – the end. So I decide today is the day I go to “the big building.” I log onto the computer and type in NY library and find the New York Public Library, where Carrie Bradshaw & Mr. Big were supposed to have their huge wedding, until he didn’t show – hmm??? Sex and the City fans? I see pictures of this big building and the stairs and the lion statues and I realize that’s where I want to go. I then go to http://www.hopstop.com to find out HOW to get there, this website is the only reason I’ve figured out my way around here, it’s very…very helpful. All I needed to do was hop on the 1-train heading downtown and get off at 42nd street (that’s Time Square) and head south a couple blocks. I was not going to be out long and I have been wearing nothing but jammies or green apron attire so I grabbed a pair of jeans a sleeveless top and my grey heels.
I paused only for a moment staring at the heels. I didn’t for a second think about blisters, or achey feet, I thought about him, my lovey: K. The last time I wore those heels was when we took pictures together, reflecting our love for each other and happiness with the other. I put the shoes back and brushed the clothes that were on my bed, on to the floor and curled up and cried. Hard. It’s like being consumed, and in the worse way. I looked up and saw the two prints I had chosen to display in the red frames I purchased hours before he ended it. They were on the shelf, still are, that I assembled in the humidity and lack of fan-ness one afternoon. After I could breathe again, I walked to the bathroom and washed my face, then brushed my hair. I walked back to my room and put my clothes on and grabbed the shoes. I sat on my bed with them on debating on whether or not to stand. I could just lay back down and let the day pass and call it a survival method. I could just kick the shoes off and throw them away and grab a bottle of wine and watch more TV on hulu. And in a Matrix quoting moment, out of no where, I said out loud – Get up Trinity. . . get up.
And I stood up and grabbed my bag and left the apartment. Every step down the five flights I could tell the shoes were a bad idea. My feet were already swollen, it was a perfect contradiction to the last time I wore them, practically hiking in the middle of SLOville in a dress, holding the hand of the man I loved. I got to the train and sat down and read my book. I always have it with me, whichever book I’m reading at the time. A book K bought me because he knew I wanted it and wanted to send me on my plane a happy camper. He bought me three books that day…
The train ride was easy, I exited at the right stop and only walked one block in the wrong direction…The avenues are long in NY. The streets, or the distance from street to street (42nd, 41st 40th) is much shorter than between the avenue (7th, 6th, 5th). I turned around and was headed in the right direction. Women passing by would glance at my shoes, and at one point some woman pointed and said something like “you know she live here, wouldn’t catch a tourist in heels.” I half smiled and wished I was somewhere near Barneys trying on Monolo Blahniks. 42nd hit 5th avenue and I turned right. it was on the corner so approaching the big building wasn’t a mystery, but it was – under construction.
The building was covered in tarps and platforms. The slight breeze ballooned the tarps making it also look vacant and somehow, old or abandoned. For a moment I stood in slight breeze surrounded by people taking picture after picture, posing with the statue lions, sitting at the tables, by the lawn and I remembered that I was alone and everyone around me, had someone.
Only one door was opened, and I walked up the stairs and opened my bag for security to look through. Then I walked into the middle of the room. It was white on the inside. Pearl and marble white. It was quiet. It was breathtaking. No one was looking forward, everyone was looking up, and so was I. And then another movie quote flew into my mind “oh! Beautiful, Gorgeous, wish you were here.” and I walked towards the steps. The light fixtures glowed in soft yellow – which my camera obviously couldn’t capture. But I was so glad to have a camera, I wanted to be able to share it with someone. And as I continued to click my camera, flash off, I remembered K had bought it for me when my other one broke. He said I needed to document my last week in CA, and my time in NY. And before the tears started rolling down I forced them back in and walked up the stairs further. My heels echoed in the high ceiling and against the pale wall with every step. They didn’t clunk, or clip along the floor, they knocked, gently, with each step. The wide railing was comforting and solid as I continued up the stairs. On the third floor there were paintings and carvings – everywhere…on the walls and ceilings. The colors were royal but soft. The arches were tall but inviting. The wood was dark. I walked further and asked where I could get a library card and was given direction. Through the hall, turn left, apply on the computer, take the temporary number to the desk, the desk will give you your card. I walked through the hall. The books the same royal colors, lit with museum yellows and topped with a balcony I could only assume was for employees only. A balcony that included more reference books and encyclopedias embossed in a probably gold lettering. The shelves were dust free and the extended desks were decorated with mini lamps and large beautiful chandeliers hovered over the rooms bringing more warmth then the windows. The windows. They were tall and arched, and square throughout the pane.
The floor soaked in the sound of my heels more than the stairs, it helped silence the room. And after she handed me my card I turned around and saw all the computers on the extended reference tables with people looking at Lady Gaga music videos, watching TV, and some were even looking up things on the library catalog. I stopped on the wood floor and looked up again, careful not to move and draw too much attention to myself by oohing, and awwing and silently took my camera out of my bag again, making sure the flash was off and attempted to capture the wonder of the ceilings. I eventually stopped looking up and looked forward as I began to leave the building. It was also explained to me that this was a reference-only library. No books could actually be “checked-out” of here. And of course – what was I thinking? This was a reference-only library. Designed for me to come and be quiet and touch the bindings of important resources and return them for others to marvel. But, with a couple books in particular in mind, today was not the day to just look-stuff-up. So I began to exit when a gentleman, who noticed my picture taking, with a badge and security uniform asked me if I’d seen the ceilings downstairs by the gift shop. I didn’t know what he meant, so I said no I only saw the white and he said the ceiling by the gift shop was wooden. And carved. I smiled and said thank you, and he returned the smile and I turned to go down the stairs. Realizing I’d also missed the lights hanging above the stairs. I shook my head at myself and paused for a quick pick… Everything was so elegant and a bit larger than life. Ceilings with carvings and artistry, marble like brick walls and light fixtures taller than I was hanging from chains you only see in castles in the movies. I had almost figured if I attempted to creep out the back way I’d have to ask them to lower the bridge for me to cross back into real life. I made it down stairs and towards the gift shop and looked up. Shaking my head in slight disbelief, and with my camera still out and ready, I brought the camera up and clicked away.
I had mixed emotions. I was glad to be there. To be out of the house and even though i wanted to cry all still, I was trying to…not just distract myself but…find myself maybe. Just a piece of me that could be mine. But in the end, I wanted someone there with me to point and say “wow” with. And past the end I could always come back with Ro or Antoan, I know he’d love it in there. But there is something about the arts, and the books, and the silence that made me want K with me. And the moment I let those thoughts back in, a rushing, drowning feeling filled me and the weight of the silence began to push down on me. Questions started filling my head, discussions were running a muck in my mind telling me how I reacted was wrong because it was emotional, telling me I know he won’t change his mind, but I still don’t understand and just as I felt the tears begin to well up, someone said “miss” and I was staring at the floor, not the ceiling, and I was standing still in the middle of the great white room. I glanced up and a woman in a security uniform asked me if I was alright and I nodded and began to walk towards her opening my bag. She looked inside it, then said thank you and I exited the building. The big building in all it’s beautiful hush and light somehow made me feel claustrophobic and I was glad to be outside. I walked down the stairs to the sounds of taxis and busses honking, people laughing and children crying. I was almost relieved to have the noise. And I started down the block to the light where I could cross to the library I was allowed to check out books from. It looked like a normal building with windows and dirt and a turning door and open and close times printed on the door. Mid-Manhattan library is right across the street from the big building. I walked in, presented my bag to security – again and continued through the door to something more recognizable. The smell of books, the stuffiness that went with a room that didn’t have much circulation. People standing by shelves, carts wheeled over by shelves with books waiting to be placed back where they belonged numerically. THIS, was a library. The big building was an escape to beauty-bookville. But here, here I walked to a computer and set my bag down to log in and look up what I was interested in on their catalog and could write down the section and catalogued number the book would be under. And wouldn’t you know it, both books I wanted were not in the building. So I put them on hold, knowing I’d be sent the email sometime this week that said they were there now and I could come pick them up and I left, feeling my feet convince me it was time to be done. And also realizing I didn’t feel my feet until I was in the “real” library.