Collecting Safe Havens

There’s one other thing yesterday that I didn’t really talk about – I visited a new library. This one was about as far out as the one I visited the week before, but it’s technically in another county, which means I collected a new library card. I consider libraries to be some of the most sacred indoor places I have available to me.

In Phoenix I had five different library cards, because each of the surrounding cities has its own library system. Out here I have to go a lot further to reach another system, but they are there. I got my third Cascadian library card yesterday, at the end of a day of doing things I hadn’t done yet.

I like to collect library cards because for me, they’re tangible representations of belonging to all these places. I always feel safe in libraries – I retreat to them the way some people do to churches – but I feel more safe knowing I have a card. That the place accepts me. I’ve visited the Portland State library a couple of times, for example, and while it does a great job of clearing my head and resetting my shields, I’m always a little aware that it’s not “my” library.

Today I went back to the Lan Su Chinese Garden with Amber. It’s the very end of their Chinese New Year celebration and we wanted to catch a lion dance. The dancers were fabulous, though there was a large crowd there to watch them. I was surprised and pleased to learn that it was possible to quiet, peaceful corners in the garden even when it’s full of screaming children. This is definitely a place where I can feel safe, and I look forward to going back many times.

I think it’s important to know where your safe places are, the places you can rely on to always make you feel better, quiet your mind, and lift your spirit. Wards and shields are all well and good, but sometimes you just need someplace you can duck into without any effort on your part. When I don’t have the presence of mind to do more than just zero in on a place and head towards it, it’s good to know where I’m going.

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