Yesterday at 9:00am, I climbed up seven flights of stairs to the top of the library, itching to see the view of Aberdeen from one of the tallest buildings on campus. The many stairs were definitely not a barrier to my determination. I just wanted to see the view badly, so badly in fact that I was nearly speed walking by the last flight.
When I got to the top, I felt like a little kid who managed to stand on top of the playground equipment at recess- the type of climbing that is dangerous, but not scolded by the tired recess teachers. Even though I am a short-term student at University of Aberdeen, this triumphant feeling was not unjustified. My ID card was not yet activated, so I was not able to enter several academic buildings, including this library. By the kindness (and possible pity) of the librarian, she had swiped me in, giving me access to ascend all seven floors. I was able to roam around, look at the books and views, without having the electronic trail of my journey throughout the building. To make it even better, the library was nearly empty, since classes do not start until next week. I always love exploring new libraries and this was a treat to independently explore each floor without the flurry of students and faculty.
In the Aberdeen library, also known as the Sir Duncan Rice Library, there are seven large floors, in addition to the ground floor, which are designed for students to research both in groups and individually. Populating the walls, large floor to ceiling windows provide great views for students who like to peacefully study independently.
When I got to the highest floor, I immediately gravitated towards one side of the library- the side with the lounge chairs. I gladly took a seat by the window. The view from the top was picturesque like an impressionist painting. Yesterday, it was an unusually sunny morning in Aberdeen and I could see dozens of granite buildings, deciduous trees, and sail boats. Below me, the people were miniatures, walking about and admiring the modern library, some even taking pictures, while I stared below watching them like an unnoticed security camera.
Naturally, I pulled out my journal and started to write about what I saw and what I felt. As I planned for this semester abroad in Aberdeen, I did a lot of goal setting and mental preparation for the great change that was ahead of me. One of my goals during this trip to write as much as possible. I figure that after lots writing, I will be able to put some of the puzzle pieces together of who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I need to start mapping out the blank canvas of life after graduation. But, I wasn’t worried about my future as I wrote. Instead, I was enthralled by seeing the entire city before my very eyes.
I felt like I was flying on top of the world. The observation seat was like home- and I could sit there for hours on end. In elementary school, I would sit on an ottoman facing the five foot window in my living room, thoroughly entranced by the dissonance of the cotton trees bending in the Pacific Northwest wind against the solid dark green evergreens. There were quite a few dog walkers on my street and the occasionally hummingbirds outside that kept me watching when there wasn’t any wind. Across there were three houses, painted in similar colors of my own, which were always silent with barely any activity outside. During the evenings, I would watch the sun slowly settle below the trees, creating a burnt sky of colors against the wispy clouds. I loved watching outside, especially when my mother went on errands. I would intensely wait by the window until her shiny tan car parked in the driveway. Then, I would shout “mommys home” to alert my eager younger video-gaming brothers when she arrived, or when she didn’t arrive (in my devilish desire to see their embarrassed faces after the false-alarm).
The more I reflected on these moments, the more I realized that I cannot even try to count how many hours I stared out that window in my house, for it is far too many. I would stare out the window forever if I could.
As I kept sitting and writing, my thoughts slowly shifted from past memories of home to a utopian future. I pictured myself permanently living near this library window as a casual observer with free meals delivered to my lounge chair. I could watch the seasons change, the people walk, and just write my days away, perhaps switching off to read a book every once in a while. I would be able to live in the library as a fly on the wall, the gorgeous transparent wall next to me.
I sat writing for an hour and a half or so, and to my surprise, the fire alarms tests went off. First, the automated lady on the speaker carefully repeated twice that the alarms were going to be tested and people do not have to exit the library building. I immediately shifted uncomfortably in my chair, tentatively waiting for the loud outburst. After about thirty seconds of uneasy anticipation, she finally sounded her screechy alarm twice. It wasn’t as loud as I expected, but it was still unsettling to sit during a fire alarm drill. Finally, she calmly told us that it was all over and it was just a drill.
It was just a drill, but I exited the building a couple of minutes after that. My journal writing was interrupted and it was too difficult to keep going. As I walked down the stairs of the library, I decided that it is nice to be grounded in the present every once in a while.