One of the good things about having a bad memory is that the memories I do retain tend to be pretty, well, memorable.
I was thinking about this while driving earlier this week. I have just recently started enjoying listening to podcasts (yes, I know I'm late to the game), and on this one podcast, they were talking about a "cold open" for a TV show. Apparently, this is a brief scene that comes up before the opening of the show runs. It may or may not be related to the episode to follow. The person on the podcast described the cold open as capturing one delicious moment in time.
So I was thinking about what moments I would choose from if I were to devise a "cold open" for my life. As I scan back over the decades, my poor memory narrows down the possibilities for me. Two odd bits bubble to the surface. They weren't anything spectacular. There was no epiphany, no drama. Just these delicious encapsulated moments.
The first is all the way back in the 1970s when my entire family went with my dad to purchase his first and only complete dress suit. I can still see that store in brilliant clarity in my mind's eye. It was Orlando, Florida, my dad's last duty station in the Navy. Up till that point, he had never needed civilian dress clothes, but he was preparing to retire, so we decided the time had come for a new suit.
I don't think I had ever even seen my dad in a suit. And this one was nothing short of spectacular. He had one stipulation going in -- the suit had to be a color other than navy or black. This one fit the bill. It was a forest green three-piece suit. He even bought two new ties to go with it. As a kid who had grown up on a tight budget, I felt like a millionaire in that store that day. The suit cost $99, and I was just bursting with pride that my dad had an expensive suit. I have never felt that rich again, but for that one brief shining moment.
The other moment actually happened a few years prior. It was the summer we moved from San Diego to Orlando, and we were driving east on I-10 over the 4th of July holiday. Back in those days, there were a lot fewer hotels and motels, and the highway was packed, with no vacancies anywhere. Somewhere in Louisiana, in the middle of the night, we finally pulled into a rest stop so my dad could get some sleep. The rest stop was jam packed with other weary travellers, many with families like mine.
It was a hot night, and the three of us kids were crammed in the backseat with our dog. So my parents said we could bring our blankets out and sleep on the hood of the car. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. And I was so excited, I didn't get a wink of sleep. But I will never forget that amazing feeling of lying there under the stars with all those other people, thrilled by the adventure of it all, but also knowing I was completely safe with my parents just a windshield away.
I am a sucker for a good snapshot in time. I think that is one of the things I enjoy about reading fiction. It is also why, in my work at the Madison County Public Library, I love creating statistical snapshots to share the work the library is doing.
I created one such infographic last week in preparation for our annual Kentucky Library Legislative Day in Frankfort. I wanted something to share with our Madison County legislators that would kind of wrap the library up in one sheet of paper.
So this year's snapshot is titled, "Each Month at the Madison County Public Library," and then I list four statistics that, at least to me, really sum us up.
The four statistics are these: 1) 25,000 visits; 2) 57,000 items checked out; 3) 166 meetings held; and 4) 5,445 program attendances. That is the average of what happens monthly at MCPL, and these numbers show the impact the library has on our community.
MCPL is a hoppin' place these days, and I hope you get a chance to stop by soon to see for yourself. In addition to new books and materials, and even new meeting spaces, we have a slate of new programs, including training in our digital studio on everything from how to design something for the 3-D printer, to how to use a serger sewing machine. They're all free and open to all. I'll see you soon at the library!
Maslin is the director of the Madison County Public Library.