Columbia Public Library’s whale chairs

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Every Saturday afternoon from when my fingers were strong enough to open a book my nerdy mom took me to the Columbia Public Library. Countless hours were spent perusing new titles and running my fingers along the clean spines of the books.
Pirates and princesses, aliens and wizards filled my head as I fought to stay longer. The children’s section of the library is built on that imagination. The dragon’s egg room, the whale chairs in the windows and the streamers and stuffed animal jungle. It is nearly impossible to resist the area’s pull.
Often I would bring my own, well-worn Harry Potter book — cover nearly torn off — and rest in a baby blue whale chair. I dragged my animal friend off the water (carpet) and to the dry land (windowsill). Here I would press my face up against the glass, creating visions of islands, even on the greyest of Columbia mornings.
The library is a perfect glass covered hideaway. The french fries and ketchup statue welcome you with greasy outstretched potato hands. The simple silence of the place fills you with a bookish peace. Here, on your whale chair in the window, you can find yourself.
Sometimes I go back just to remember. I sit in the children’s area and smile to myself, quiet sounds of Oregon Trail clinking in the background. Other times I allow the library to make me an adult, checking out The Jungle from the top floor, or using the study rooms to finish my Precalculus.
This library took care of me, protected my whale watching adventures inside its pages. It kept my imagination perfectly preserved.
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes