European Sojourn Continues | Sanctuary Among the Screams.

The place of books & coffee. Also, children.

The place of books & coffee. Also, children.


The City Library. A place where I go to enjoy a simple but satisfying routine for the sake of routine.

It begins thusly:

First I attend to the eating and drinking of things at the cafe on Level 1. This cafe, inside of the library, is bustling. It has all manner of coffee options, as well as a plethora of healthy food choices, plus raw chocolate cakes, as well as cookies, chia puddings, and my favorite choice here in Sweden: cinnamon rolls. I opt for the falafel wrap & americano everytime.

I find a space to plop my tray down & settle in. I quietly observe other patrons. Mostly my eye tends to find the well-dressed mothers with their whiny, roving tiny people. These tots are always finding themselves clamoring over chairs and benches between sips of juice or a bit of yogurt. The children and their mothers are barefoot or they will at the very least have socks on, but rarely shoes....curious.

I find myself reflecting on the idea of having children while I watch these mothers and children, or parents and children as it were, for there are many parents and many children in Sweden, and even more pregnant women than I think I have ever seen at one time, ever.  I am in awe of these families, these mothers and fathers and babies and children and then, into the scene comes that one child, there is always the one, who reminds me why I am not (as yet, anyway) a mother.

Case in point:

On my last visit, I watch a father try--really try--to appease his small toddler. He opens the small yogurt & granola container, but his tiny tot pushes her food away with a loud: "NEJ." (Might I suggest that you take a moment to google "No in Swedish." Then listen to the way the woman pronounces "Nej." It is almost polite. Then imagine a toddler saying "Nej," and you'll have some idea of what I heard. I know, you're probably thinking, "But, Erin, it's the same in English." But it's not. No is not Nej. But you're right, an unhappy toddler is an unhappy toddler; it doesn't matter where they are from.) The mother appears then, with glasses of water, and the little girl sets about to SCREAMING. Scratch that. This little one is WAILING. 

The world is clearly ending. I squirm in my seat. I can't decide if I'm more uncomfortable with the screaming that is emerging out of this small being, or the fact that I have done that myself.

As an adult.


Time to go.

Secondarily, I am here to attend to the reading and writing of things. I read Sandra Cisneros' new introduction to her acclaimed work, The House on Mango Street,  whereupon I promptly fashion the idea that if I were to meet Ms. Cisneros, we would be fast friends. Because she understands me. Completely. Or I understand her. In either case, I am regaled with hope by her words, particularly around her doing the things that make her scared in order to live her dreams and live the life she wants. Not the one anyone else expects her to have.

After I finish reading this introduction, I feel kind of like Amélie & the blind man she is helpingher joy at helping him and his joy at receiving the beautiful descriptions of the world around him. 

Finally, upon further visits, I will work on one of my scripts, read Emma Thompson's diary/notes chronicling the shooting of Sense and Sensibility, most of Quentin Tarantino's screenplay for Jackie Brown, a smattering of other works, and overall feel quite safe and sound among the books, computers, and librarians.

And screaming children.