I am a true professional when it comes to getting lost. I even lost a school bus once, but that’s a story best told in person. Today I want to talk about getting lost in Green Bay. [I was going to say something like “my new city” or “my new home,” but that doesn’t sound right, not yet. GB is not yet home— home is something that must be earned over time.]
In truth I got lost before I even got here. When my parents helped me move down to Green Bay, we relied on my GPS. Unfortunately, it had not been updated regarding the new fly-over ramps that had been constructed last summer. Let’s just say that we got so lost that when I finally called my friend [who happens to have the entire road map of Green Bay memorized] even she had no idea where we were. In the end, I gave up the wheel to my father and he was able to find the highway and follow directions as my friend gave us step-by-step directions over the phone.
After I moved in, it took me weeks to even start my car. It was so much easier to just stay in the apartment and fill out job applications or catch up on my reading list. If my friend left the apartment, I would usually tag along. She even drove me to a couple of job interviews. Finally, though, I couldn’t take it anymore—I needed to find the library.
In truth, I had at least 20 unread books on my shelf. (I still do, actually!) Libraries aren’t just lifeless buildings of books, though. A library is a meeting place for those who love to read—like a clubhouse. I needed to feel that comradery. I needed that little plastic card that said “you belong”.
“Over the years I have collected so many books that, in aggregate, they can fairly be called a library.I don’t know what percentage of them I have read. Increasingly I wonder how many of them I ever will read. This has done nothing to dampen my pleasure in acquiring more books.”
–Marilyne Robinson, “When I Was a Child, I Read Books”
So I did it. I examined the route on Google Maps. I entered the address into my GPS. I started the car. I was doing alright up until the roundabout. [PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Green Bay, WI is FULL of roundabouts.] It took a couple of trips “around the rotary,” but we got back on track in the end. I missed the final turn for the library and had to do some back-tracking, but I did it. I parked my car, unplugged my GPS, entered the building, and just reveled in it for a minute. I browsed the shelves. I got a library card. I even logged onto a computer just because I could. I didn’t check out a book, not that day.
The point was not to find a book. The point was to venture out and find something familiar, something that could ground me. The library is roughly 2.5 miles from my apartment. I have returned several times since that first day. In fact, I can now get there without any help at all. That first day though, 2.5 miles was a great chasm. And I crossed it.
Even 2.5 miles can seem like a great journey.