This past weekend I went to Vancouver, on the train. It was a quick 30 hours, a whirlwind of sightseeing and shopping and getting rained on continuously, that nonetheless left me happy, less stressed out, unconciously relaxed me until by the time we were pulling out of the station to go home at sunset last night, when I looked up to see a bright, bright double rainbow all across the sky that we were apparently going under I put my head on J.’s shoulder and everything seemed perfect.
Things have been crazy. The only thing that really kept me going last Friday was the knowledge that I was leaving town. Things have been stressful with S., hectic at work, busy everywhere else. I have a portfolio to finish, a class to line up, information to gather at work, jobs to apply for … but I feel better, ready to face the future. I have energy again, at least for a little while, and my cough is going away and I am no longer waking up with a burning throat and stoppered sinuses every morning. I am reading a massively-marked down copy of Tom Jones that I bought in Canada, which I have been meaning to read for years. J. is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time and it is cracking us both up that I am so excited for him, peeking over his shoulder every few pages and getting enthusiastic about the story all over again.
We spent a lot of time walking around the central city; we stayed in Gastown in a fun, semi-grungy hostel called the Cambie; I would recommend it but not perhaps for our state of mind, which was more about falling asleep early than partying. Nonetheless it was fine; we saw the steam-powered clock which amused me to no end and poked around in shops up and down Granville. J. wanted to look at the city so we took the Skytrain around, capping it off with a fine lunch at a fine restuarant with white linen and puttanesca.
We went and spent a long time in the Vancouver Public Library central building, which is an interesting building that invokes the Roman coliseum. Compared to the Seattle Public Library central building, it feels cramped and much more traditional. There were features I liked very much about it — like how the escalators are obvious and there is a reference desk parked on the landing in front of each one — but there were also features that didn’t seem to work at all, like how the long, narrow floors didn’t seem to facilitate either reference or finding anything, and how they seemed to be quite obviously running out of room — there weren’t enough study tables for the people in the library, and they had installed compact shelving in place of some of the stacks.
Of course, there are features of SPL that I both like and dislike, in the same ways. Anyway, J. and I spent a long time drinking coffee in the atrium and talking about library architecture. I seem to be making a little mini-study of the subject, spurred on by his interest. I am fascinated by how with a designer’s eye he can see only the space, divested of its use or people or current placement of escalators (the building is a square within a circle, he tells me, something that I would have never noticed); he is in turn fascinated by my explanations of how people need to be able to see the reference desk and how that in turn needs to be close to catalog computers and how endcaps on library shelves are something that people are grappling with how to deal with. It takes both perspectives, I think, to build something functional, and we spent a happy hour or two on the subject.