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Reclaiming Space

I think my theme for August is reclaiming space. Moving back to San Francisco reclaimed my city for me; even if we move along later (as may well happen when we eventually sell the house in Florida), I feel I have reattached myself to my hometown in a way that has been restorative and regardless of where we move will be permanent.

This past week in the library we cleaned out the old “processing room” to help it along its way to becoming a multiuse events room, and in the course of it reclaimed the library for this team here and now.

When I say “cleaned,” I mean we filled an entire recycling truck with five decades’ of detritus (including weeded books that our book-buyer had already gone through), created a small mountain for the computer recyclers to pick up, and still have an immense mound of miscellaneous trash by our back door.

Not to mention two boxes of items we thought would be amusing for a display of “found in the library,” though as the day wore on and more of this junk surfaced, I became less charmed and even mildly saddened. There’s a certain dolor associated with piles of pocket cards and book tape that is hard to pin down. The opposite, in some ineffable way, of “a bracelet of bright hair about the bone.”

The next day one of our team members lifted all the blinds in the room. It was startling to see the room filled with sunlight. All the angles and corners seemed more definite, as if the room were reclaiming its own self, emerging into a new, proud identity. It will become an event room even if we start with $9 Ikea folding chairs and whatever folding tables we can beg; this room wants to grow past its former lives.

I had really wanted to claim partial ownership over our library’s participation in our university’s fall orientation (August 20-22), but that is the weekend of my father’s remembrances. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that the event had been planned to be held at the Washington Square Bar and Grill, which suddenly closed this week, but thanks to my highly adept sister, will now be held at Delancey Street. We will scatter my father’s ashes on Sunday, and he’ll return to the ocean he loved.

One of the lessons in small universities is that you have to let go and set aside guilt over what cannot be reasonably accomplished. There are four of us, and it’s amazing we do what we do. I had wanted to hold a games night over orientation weekend, lead a journaling/meditation session for those who will not be at Mass, and tout our upcoming activities. But matter can neither be created nor destroyed, and nearly all of the other work that weekend is on one person who needs to live to tell the tale. I am fortunate we can participate in orientation at any level and am grateful for the great team I work with and how much we got done this summer.

We can still hold a games night some other time, and I’m looking forward to the autumn events taking shape: so far, two art talks and a poetry read-aloud. There will be time ahead to reclaim new spaces; there will be another fall orientation to be part of, and a few more after that.