Shortly after moving to Bainbridge Island, Washington in 2007, we had our third child. With three kids under the age of five, there were few places I felt I could spend time without constantly herding my children. The Bainbridge Public Library became, in a sense, my community. I would go on rainy days and find warm smiles. My children would crawl up to the fish tank or snuggle in the reading corner and meet other children who were equally joyful to have found such a place.
Our love of books brought us through the door, but our love of community kept us there. My kids loved the movie days where their cups of popcorn runneth over. The summer reading program was a welcome challenge as were the robotics classes, story times, and puppet shows. As we prepared to leave our life on our beautiful island over a year ago, I knew I would miss our library. What I didn’t know is that it would continue to comfort us and connect us in remote corners of Europe.
We can checkout and download books to our Kindle and Kindle apps any time of the day or night. We have no TV (in English), or streaming capability in most places we spend time. Books are our entertainment.
Finding a book on the e-book shelf is just as rewarding as finding it on the shelf back home because somehow it feels magical to be this far away and have that kind of access. I used to love to sift through the back issues of the magazines at the library and drop my quarter in the box. Just last week I discovered the Zinio app on the Kitsap Regional Library website and I can check out magazines in English from anywhere in the world. My kids discovered the Freegal music downloads from the library and pick out songs every week that remind them of home. We take Italian lessons through an audiobook, playing most evenings while we prepare dinner, that we checked out from our library thousands of miles and oceans away.
These gifts in our native tongue don’t replace our love of Slovenian television, Spanish magazines, French cooking instruction, or German rock and roll. What they do is comfort us when we just want to hear Christmas carols we can sing along to or read a novel that we don’t have to translate. Somedays I just want to flip through a magazine to see what people are trending in the United States.
It is a glimpse, a glimmer, a porch light from home, that keeps a constant glow for us as we venture further into the unknown.