I did not think that the course work was hard when I attended graduate school. I simply thought it was a lot of labor. It took a lot of effort yet I obtained a 3.89/ out of a 4.0 GPA. I always think that those of us with broken brains become “school heads” and throw ourselves into our studies as a coping mechanism for the hard time we’re having.
I followed through with my goal of going back to school even though I was unemployed.
Starting library school, I soldiered on in a purple mood: brave and sad. The insurance career may have failed, yet it was the only one I knew, so I wondered if maybe it was a mistake to go back to school. I felt like a tormented lover torn between staying with her sugar daddy because he was there and walking on to dare find a new love. I looked regretfully at the door that closed like a woman mourning the side of the bed where her love used to sleep.
The Pratt location in Manhattan was where I attended school.
An omen: I had to give a presentation for my Introduction to Libraries class, talking about an interview I conducted with the director of a library. My last name began with a B, so I was the second person to perform. I interviewed a librarian at the Jefferson Market branch in Manhattan.
After the class, a guy from the first row came up to me: “You had a booming voice. You were amazing.”
“Thanks.” I fobbed off this as a great feat even though I thought it was ordinary.
“Want to go for coffee at the Used Book Café?”
“Okay,” I dared say yes.
“I’m Adrian.” He led the way.
“Chris.” I slung my messenger bag over my shoulder. It was a Manhattan Portage canvas one whose red logo patch I removed when everyone in sight started carrying the same bag. I bought mine two years ago and wanted to be anonymous now.
The bookstore was on Crosby Street; you could get lost in the stacks. Oh, I was in heaven—the books, books, books were all cheap, and a lot were in new condition. Adrian ordered a latte. I chose the tomato soup. We sat at a table in the back. He was an Armani Exchange kind of guy who wore his dramatic clothes well. His own messenger bag was leather.
“I work as a reference assistant at Forrester Bean Tate Reilly,” he rattled off a law firm.
What could I say? I had two part-time jobs: I worked in the second floor administration office at Pratt, answering phones two days a week, and I temped at McKinsey, doing word processing two days to bring in money.
I asked him what a reference assistant did, and he told me.
“You need to learn online searching. That’s where the money is.”
“How could I do that?” I was curious.
“Take the online database courses in law and business. That’s where it’s at.”
“I’m considering doing that,” I told him.
Adrian’s last name started with a G, so he would give his talk in a couple of weeks.
“I’m going with the big guns: a PowerPoint presentation.”
“Marvelous.” I was in awe of him. Did I sound like a drip?
He told me I should join the student association that was meeting next week at one o’clock after our class. This intrigued me, and I decided to risk going. The other students were a multi-culti crowd from countries around the world. I welcomed the chance to rub elbows with them and hear their stories about how they came to be at Pratt.
Adrian stared at me throughout our conversation, and I felt uneasy. Did I give off an odd vibe, or was he just the kind of person who acted like he was always at a cocktail party making deals?
“I’d better get going. I have to take the train to the ferry and then the bus on the other side.” I gathered up my bowl to take back to the counter.
“See you later,” he chanted in a dark voice.
“Ciao.” I sailed out the door into rain.