Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Library

The Library
A Personal Essay by Kimberly Richardson


When I was younger, my mother used to take me to the library every Saturday so I could check out four or five books to read during the upcoming week. Now, many years later, I still find myself telling that moment of my past to whoever wants to listen. That simple act meant more to me than anything else, for it shaped me into the person I am today. Without my passion for the written word, I would be nothing. Many years ago, our main library used to be in the heart of Midtown, Memphis’ arts and culture (hippie) district. It stood as a behemoth among the old oak trees and bungalow homes; dark bricks and immense wooden doors giving off a heady scent that would make me swoon every time I walked in. The delicate essences of musk, dust, information, and people were combined to give the library a scent all its own. The scent is so powerful to me that I have even discovered a perfume entitled PAPERBACK and I try to buy a bottle every so often just to smell like my biggest source of passion. Perhaps it is because I am a writer that libraries still hold me in their influence, seducing the one who desires knowledge and wants to know more about the world they live in. Of course now, the scene is much different; the old main library was shut down several years ago and bulldozed to make way for a brand new state of the art information technology center in one of the suburban areas of our fine city. The place, mainly made with glass and steel rods, is supposed to catch the eye of anyone viewing it. We’re supposed to be hip and information savvy, so why not just destroy the old and musty and bring in the new and fragile? Now, when I walk in the main branch’s front area, I feel nothing but cold and a blankness that is frightfully unsettling. Going up the stairs, I want to re-discover my passion, far away from screaming kids just getting out of school, people who use the computers for every bit of knowledge they have acquired. I want my narrow shelves, my dust motes flying before me as I search for that one book, the one that I have been searching for all day. I want that simple bit of bliss and strangely enough, I do find it. Although the outer shell is hard and transparent, giving off an unfamiliar scent, the inside is still the same. I walk through the shelves on the third floor, find a quiet and secluded spot, and smile. My passion still remains.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Evolution - A Short Story

First, there was the light. Not the kind of light that is glaring or harsh. No, this light was soft and inviting, as if it desperately wanted you to trust and believe in the light and what it represented. That was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes. Strange thing is, I could not remember what happened before I opened my eyes. I opened my eyes a little more and found myself to be in a room with no windows. The walls were white, the carpet on the floor was white, even my clothing was white. I touched the soft material of the shirt and pants then laid my head against the wall in confusion; just why was I there? Suddenly, a door appeared on the opposite side of the room and a young man dressed in a red tunic with black shoulder length hair stepped into the room while holding a clipboard of some kind. His face betrayed no emotion and I was too curious to be afraid of him. He walked to the center of the room, looking all around, stopped, then finally fixed his gaze on me. He said in a deep voice, "Welcome to the Evolution," and smiled. Still curious, I asked him what the Evolution was. He replied, "For centuries, Man has searched for the perfect means of achieving intellectual power but has never quite gotten it right. Those with limited brain capacity have always been thrown together with those of a higher intellectual power and as a result, both groups have suffered. No more," he said as he wrote something down on his clipboard then returned his gaze to my questioning face. "We, our company, have answered this delicate question and have solved it to where it hurts and affects no one in a negative manner."

"What do you do?"

"We place those of like minds together, forever."

"But what of families? Friends, loved ones?"

"All of that can be replaced with the new structuring." I looked down at my clothing again then said in a soft voice, :So where do I belong?"

"You, my dear," he said, "are to be with our highest group."

"And of my family?" I dread hearing the answer.

"I'm sorry . . . . "

I closed my eyes, not wanting to feel the tears falling down my face but it was, of course, too late. So this is what happened, I thought as he helped me up and out of the room. This is what Man has become. The memories of before came back to me in a rush; the intrusions, separation of families, people being pulled apart from embraces that would never happen again, all of it. I remember seeing my family being led away like sheep while I was led to another building. As I walked out of the room with the man and into my new life, I wondered what truly happened to my family. Were they really placed in other areas such as the one I was going to but for people with lower intelligence? I shuddered, not wanting to think about any other possibility. I walked along with my guide to my new home but inside I was already dead.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waiting - A Short Story

It was night. As she stood at the top of the back staircase, she sighed heavily while staring out across the parking lot behind her apartment building to the blue and white painted houses that lined the massive wooden wall, separating the two worlds. The night was slightly warm but a hidden chill in the air still reminded people that Winter was not ready to release its grip on the city. She took another drag from her cigarette (a habit she picked up from her boyfriend) and blew the smoke in the direction of the houses. She then closed her eyes and created thoughts of her living in one of the simple houses, wanting so much to continue her life as a bohemian while still clinging to her nouveau ways. And yet, she thought as she took another drag, I still don't know what it is I am exactly looking for. She finished off her cigarette and threw it in a glass half filled with water then let herself back into her apartment filled with books, art, and dusty candles. She was to spend the night at her boyfriend's house and he had called earlier just to make sure she was still coming over. She smiled briefly, her thoughts already projecting another great night with him then pulled out her backpack. The houses, she thought as she stuffed two pairs of underwear in her backpack, are what I wish could represent me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Book -A Short Story

His legs still felt cold when he touched them for the tenth time that day. He leaned back in his chair and blinked once slowly; no emotions showed on his face as his brain began to process his situation. He was confined to the chair for the rest of his life but it was he who tempted Fate in the first place. He wanted to unlock the secrets of the book and become master over it. It was he who desired to gain knowledge no matter the cost. And was the cost worth it? At the time he thought so; sacrifices must be made in order to understand and evolve beyond those other organisms who shared his DNA and genetic makeup. Now, thanks to the book and his insatiable curiosity, he would be confined to a chair for the rest of his life but his mind would be filled with knowledge no human should ever have access to. A smile appeared on his lips as the coldness set in even further.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Green Earrings - a story

She wore the green earrings because she said they made her feel happier. They were a reminder of better days, the days when she actually spoke to her mother in loving tones rather than with curt one word answers. Deep down she wanted to forgive and move on, but she also held herself back as well. She was her own worst enemy when it came to matters regarding her emotions. She always blamed it on her traumatic family experiences, but the truth was that she was scared. None of her other friends realized the truth of her behaviour except for me; that was why I knew the green earrings would work. My own mother gave them to me when she thought I was ready and even when I took them from her, I knew that I was still not ready to accept such a gift. In my mind, I was simply going through the motions, appeasing everyone else but me. When I told her the story behind the surprise gift, she merely sighed while her hand lazily reached out for them. I should have known better, but in the end I had done my part.

Monday, February 11, 2008

People Still Amaze Me

So. I just got in from spending the night with my boyfriend, Clayton, and I feel quite refreshed. We spent Sunday watching movies, eating Taco Bell, and laughing quite a bit (my impersonation of Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean is quite funny!) It was a good and relaxing day and I was glad for it.

However, I do want to mention one event that floored me, even while driving home several minutes ago. This event is why people still amaze me.

Due to me giving too much trust to someone, I lost $50 in my checking account several days ago. I will not go into the details but know that I will NEVER do what I did again unless if I am married to that person. Anyway, I regretted the decision and knew that I would never get it back but that was OK; money does not really matter too much to me (perhaps that is why I am so bad with it ~ grin). Anyway, I mentioned this event to a new friend of mine, someone that I have enjoyed talking to recently, and he shared my opinions and thoughts on the matter. After our conversation, I quickly forgot the matter and went back to being stupid and funny. Suddenly, he walked up to me and handed me $40 in cash, giving it to me as a loan to cover my recent loss with a smile. I stammered for a moment but found my tongue and said, "Thank you," as he walked away.

We expect people to be selfish, cruel, and greedy in today's world, sadly enough, but we are amazed when someone does something nice and thoughtless, expecting no fawning gratitude. It hits us with a side blow, knocking our senses unaware and for a moment, we are amazed.

When you throw out good to the world, it does come back to you. Many years ago, I used to be a cynical and bitter woman, full of "who cares?" and "I don't"s. However, since I turned 30 and every year after that, I am now simply amazed and happier for it. I smile as much as possible, laugh even when I am laughing at myself, and enjoy life to its fullest, looking at every wonder that I used to ignore. People still do amaze me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

So.

I just got in from my church for our Ash Wednesday service, where I received my ashes and oil on my forehead, signifying the start of 40 days in preparing for Easter. When I walked out of the building, I stumbled, missing a step, then smiled because that stumble jarred my head for a moment. My church, for those of you who do not know, is a very progressive Christian church (we have the nickname of the Hippie Gay Church here in Memphis!) and we do not dwell in fire and brimstone teachings so this service touched me deeper than our usual Sunday services.

I know I am not a perfect person. I know I have many shortcomings, some I wish I never had. However, I want to be a better person, one who will stare at my own faults in the face and defeat them with hope that they will never bother me again. Lent is a good starting point for me, a chance to wipe the slate clean and reel myself in to really take a look at what is laid before me, a woman who wants to be a writer and yet is self sabotaging her dreams because she is afraid of failure, defeat, and rejection.

Lent is a time of reflection, to stop pointing fingers at people, blaming them for constant problems, or to stop whining and moaning about why you are still single and why you can't find someone to love, or to even stop turning against people who love you only because you are afraid to love them back. This is a time when me must put aside what others think of us and instead pay attention to what is inside of us, hidden under false hopes, addictions, and lies.

During this time, I refuse to cast stones on anyone because I, too, have stones waiting to be thrown at me. In fact, after I left church tonight, I went to my friends' video store (Black Lodge Video) to apologize to a man who was one of my closest friends, letting him know I was sorry for my past behaviour towards him. I no longer want to do things just for the sake of doing them; I want to do things because it is the right thing to do. Our innermost fears keep us from being the people we were meant to be, blocking our own paths from ourselves.

So, even if you are not Christian, at least take some time in your life to pause and reflect from time to time. Sometimes, what we refuse to face is what we need to face to get us going on own path. No matter what religion you practice, take the time to pause and reflect.

Thanks for reading.

Kimberly
Goth Librarian 74