Place Writing


The chill of the outside left my body as I entered my second home, a warm, welcoming place that I had spent so many days at. The library was my sanctuary. It had within it everything I could wish for and I’d while away hours aimlessly wandering the stacks. Slightly dust covered keyboard with smudges on the pc monitors, the overuse of the devices is clearly seen through the faded keys and the occasional missing “escape” button. I can see it clearly in my mind, walking through the double doors I’d usually turn left; Miss Donna or Miss Catherine usually sat at the children’s desk and they’d wave and make a slight “sh” motion in response to my boisterous greeting. As I strolled left I’d either bank left into the computer lab to finish a little schoolwork or play some video games; but more often than not, I’d stroll forward into the children’s books section, digging for my next good read.

James Patterson, Brandon Sanderson, John Flanagan, Chris Paolini, Brandon Mull, Rick Riordan; Maximum Ride, Mistborn, Ranger’s Apprentice, The Inheritance Cycle, Fablehaven, Percy Jackson. These men and these books shaped my childhood and molded my personality into who I am-they filled in the emptiness I felt, the isolation of any loner. 

The Hauppauge Public Library in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s was filled with kind caring people and all the books I could ever ask for. I distinctly remember choosing to spend an entire afternoon and night at the library rather than attend maturity night with my peers during fifth grade, books were far more interesting to me than some lectures. After all, it was my fortress of solitude; hell, I’d live in it if allowed. And as I grew older, I participated in more activities and played a more active role in the library community. In middle school I spent hours at a desk as a summer reading volunteer, took part in trivia nights, and helped our battle of the books team earn first place and podium finishes throughout my three years as part of their team. 

But as I grew, my preferences changed. Now I’d swerve right after entering through the familiar double doors, treading towards the “adult novel” section with its towering shelves and intimidating aura. Or I’d pace towards the “adult computer” or periodical section to complete school assignments. I was no longer confined to one side and spread my time throughout the open floor. 

But, eventually the passage of time caught up with my second home. The library relocated as I entered my sophomore year of high school, but at that point I’d already become somewhat distant from my former haven. My time became cluttered with increasingly difficult school responsibilities, home troubles, club leadership roles, and I lost all my reading time. I needed to full throttle through high school in order to achieve the goal I’d been eyeing since childhood: the hardest classes, the most clubs, the best extracurriculars, I did it all. But I lost my place. 

Ironically enough, when the library changed locations it actually moved closer to me-within walking distance. But when I passed through the new double doors it felt cold and distant. The smiling faces, the looking shelves, the endless stream of books- everything felt different, it felt off. It hit me. My place really was gone, not just in my head but in reality as well. My old librarian friends were promoted, the stacks replaced and the rooms renovated. 

As I return to my former self, and get back into novels, I find myself thinking about the Hauppauge Public Library more often. Back then books and the library were my salvation- an escape from the stresses of home and the lack of a school social circle, a respite from life. Literature has no prejudices, doesn’t judge. The feeling of getting lost in the pages of “Shoe Dog” or “The Ruins of Gorlan” is a beautiful thing, one that I now find myself reminiscing on and striving to feel again. 

The library was my place, and even though it’s gone it lives on- in my books, in my mind, and in the impact it left on me as a person.


Jalaj Mehta – Author