I go downstairs to find her so we can go to lunch
. It's Wednesday and that's the only day our schedules match enough we can go outside. Melinda works on the main floor of the library
most of the time, while I am upstairs in what we call the Dust Bin
; research & preservation.
Melinda is usually behind a desk or back in the stacks, filing and refiling. She spends hours a day coming behind co-workers who have filed wrongly -her words.
Melinda is not a people person by any stretch, and when she speaks to the public it's monosyllables.
"Yes. No. I don't believe so. I'm not aware of that, I'll ask."
Because she includes no pleasantries like: Y'all, Yea-uh, Ma'am, Suh people think she is uppity. Which she is not, just formal. Anyway, it leads Melinda to stay with what she knows, which is books and away from that which she doesn't, which is most everyone.
All of the above explains my shock when I see a woman who appears to be Melinda sitting on the curved marble staircase on the way down to the mainfloor. I mean, it looks like Melinda-single ponytail, blue oxford shirt/bleached skirt. But I am skeptical, because she is sitting next to, and talking to a child. A girl about 10 or so with bright orange hair and a shiny silver smile. I stop to try and overhear, but I don't want to get too close and interupt. It's rare to see her so vulnerable in public, so accessible. They are animated and sharing some notes on a stack of books on Melinda's lap. It's clear that Melinda is trying to give her practical advice mixed with that shared enthusiasm you get when you can share a great book with someone who hasn't even heard of it. A little laughter, and Melinda looks around to make sure no sees that she is the cause in the security breach. Her mock terrified look leads to more giggles.
Now I can see what school was like for Melinda when she was a child, and it makes me a little sad. I won't tell her, but I wonder what would have happened if her parents had been a bit more encouraging, a bit more adventurous.
Who knows. You can't change the past, but it's fun to visit occasionally. That part I'll tell her.